A Muslim protecting Christian doctrine; Unknowingly!

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nj-easter-egg-huntI said it once and I will say it again! Those who devise non bibilically prescribed customs and feasts to the Christian faith are the ones who are “doing the work of the devil” reducing Christianity into a “fairy tale” with Santa Claus, Eastern Bunny and, of course, egg hunts, and certainly a few other childish parties.

Oh, of course these are such innocent things that they will hardly affect anyone, or any child’s forming faith, right? Wrong! You talk to your children about the tooth fairy, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, along with teaching them about Jesus, then you expect that they will grow up and filter off the childish things and realize that none of these characters are real and for some miraculous reason, you hope that they will keep Jesus as a “truthful” character… What a hope!

Before you say it, as an avowed Calvinist I shouldn’t worry because after all God will preserve his own. It is right there in the “P” of T.U.L.I.P, or, “perseverance, (also preservation) of the saints, right? Wrong again! Yes, God will preserve His own but that doesn’t relieve you of your parent responsibility in raising your child in the most pure form of Christian faith!

Oh, I am all in favor of enjoying our liberty in Christ and I am all against legalism in any subtle or conspicuous form it rears its ugly head (and legalism’s head is in the rear), so, I am not talking about turning your child into an outcast, devoid of contact with society, and not participating in some “innocent” play, although such an “innocence” is debatable. What I am talking about is this militant stance in defending these types of activities not prescribed in the Bible as if they were somehow to be revered as something directly from heaven’s throne room! And how some do that? Answer: by calling anyone who opposes to such celebration a “anti-Christian” waging a “war on Christianity”, especially if one is not a Christian.

I said it before and I will say it again: God has used anyone to speak for Him, including a donkey, and God will also use those who are currently the enemies of His Gospel if that is what it takes to remove the attention from a stupid egg hunt that, in my view, a Church should not be promoting, and make the Church really turn their attention to what we are celebrating that day, that is, if we indeed celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. When a Muslim is outraged because of something that he was told is a Christian thing, read that outrage as perhaps God speaking through a donkey preventing us from turning the Gospel into a fairy tale sort of nursery rhyme, devoid of its meaningful and sacred and eternal meaning, and the ever changing power that it has been through the ages. Think about it!

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The Resurrection is the Exodus in Luke

Here’s the deal – I am not much in the writing mood today, and I would really have to research this out to see how many other people picked up on this. Plus it is not something I’m going to waste a lot of time researching because of other outstanding projects.

I have others things to do, but as were were reading something a few weeks ago in Sunday School class, the thought occurred to me that the Resurrection is the Exodus event. I base this first on Luke 9.31, better translated in the NLT:

They were glorious to see. And they were speaking about his exodus from this world, which was about to be fulfilled in Jerusalem. (Luk 9:31 NLT)

My thought pattern is…

In Luke 9… Christ is to go to Jerusalem to perform His Exodus…. To lead people out, from captivity. Thus, the Resurrection is the actual Exodus Event. Parting the Red Sea = Harrowing of Hell in 1st Peter 3-4.

Lead His people free, lead the captives free, etc…

So, beyond the collective ‘duh’ from the more aptly trained theologians, is this something that is a valid interpretation?

Stephen Hawking doesn’t believe in Heaven.. who’d guessed?

Thanks to Robert for the tip to this story. As many of my readers know, I don’t believe in ‘going to heaven’ either, but I do believe that their is a life after this one. I have been Surprised by Hope upon finding this story of the New Creation… ;)

A belief that heaven or an afterlife awaits us is a “fairy story” for people afraid of death, Stephen Hawking has said.

In a dismissal that underlines his firm rejection of religious comforts, Britain’s most eminent scientist said there was nothing beyond the moment when the brain flickers for the final time. (here)

Why is this news?

 

Thought of the Day – Weren’t we supposed to leave Emmaus?

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That same day two of Jesus’ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem. As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them. But God kept them from recognizing him….

See, these guys were near Emmaus, leaving Jerusalem, after the crucifixion and the resurrection… Jesus meets them and asks them about what was going on. Perhaps had they not been so near to Emmaus, and instead been closer to Jerusalem, they would have recognized Him… They told Jesus about the cross, the hope in the Messiah and the women who told of the Resurrection, and about the vision of angels which spoke to them. Jesus upbraids them with some pretty strong words:

Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?”

They were too near to Emmaus to recognize Christ and the Scriptures…. Even when He upbraided them, they still didn’t recognize Him until He opened their eyes, and even then, in their stupor, they failed to understand what had happened until they were …

And within the hour they were on their way back to Jerusalem. There they found the eleven disciples and the others who had gathered with them, who said, “The Lord has really risen! He appeared to Peter. “

It was only when they were on their way back to Jerusalem, leaving and going far from Emmaus that they were able to comprehend Jesus –

Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. And he said, “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise from the dead on the third day. It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’ You are witnesses of all these things. (Luk 24:13-48 NLT)

In all sincerity, the Resurrection was yesterday, but Today we live that Witness.

Away from Emmaus.

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Quote of The Day – The Indelible Moment

The resurrection of Christ is not the fruit of speculation or mystical experience: it is an event which, while it surpasses history, nevertheless happens at a precise moment in history and leaves an indelible mark upon it. The light which dazzled the guards keeping watch over Jesus’ tomb has traversed time and space. It is a different kind of light, a divine light, that has rent asunder the darkness of death and has brought to the world the splendour of God, the splendour of Truth and Goodness. – Pope Benedict XVI

The Nazareth Inscription

Just thought that this might be interesting

THE NAZARETH INSCRIPTION TRANSLATION

1. EDICT OF CAESAR

2. It is my decision [concerning] graves and tombs—whoever has made

3. them for the religious observances of parents, or children, or household

4. members—that these remain undisturbed forever. But if anyone legally

5. charges that another person has destroyed, or has in any manner extracted

6. those who have been buried, or has moved with wicked intent those who

7. have been buried to other places, committing a crime against them, or has

8. moved sepulcher-sealing stones, against such a person I order that a

9. judicial tribunal be created, just as [is done] concerning the gods in

10. human religious observances, even more so will it be obligatory to treat

11. with honor those who have been entombed. You are absolutely not to

12. allow anyone to move [those who have been entombed]. But if

13. [someone does], I wish that [violator] to suffer capital punishment under

14. the title of tomb-breaker.

NOTES AND COMMENTARY ON MY TRANSLATION

While the Greek word “decree,” “diatagma,” used in line one[i] of the Nazareth Inscription may suggest to modern readers some sort of imperial legal process, the fact of the matter is that the Nazareth Inscription is almost certainly a rump or abridged version of an imperial rescript. As will be seen below, a rescript was a letter of response sent by the emperor to some sort of an imperial official. It was not uncommon for imperial rescripts to be treated as legal decrees. See Charlesworth, Documents Illustrating the Reigns of Claudius and Nero, p. 14 where the Emperor Claudius himself calls one of his rescripts on Jewish rights “touto mou to diatagma” or “this decree of mine.” As will be seen below, there is an imperial rescript of the Emperor Claudius which fits the pattern of the Nazareth Inscription very well. The rescript process will also be discussed in detail below. (here)

Tough Questions of the Resurrection

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I am teaching Sunday School for about 15 minutes in the morning.

I was looking for ‘tough questions’ – more than, ‘Why Would God Kill His Son’  - so I found these,

1. How do you account for a bunch of Jews who believed in, at best, a future resurrection suddenly believing they had seen one?

2. How do you account for strict monotheists suddenly believing they had witnessed the Son of God, and worshiping him as such?

3. How do you account for the lack of refutations of something so public?

4. How do you account for the change of heart and behavior of the disciples? What was their motivation to perpetuate a lie at loss of their lives?

5. How do you account for the rapid spread of Christianity, despite severe persecution?

I’m not sure that I will ask these for several reasons.

1.) it wasn’t at best – the Resurrection was a growing belief for a while, especially among the community which provided the thought world of the New Testament.

2.) Strict monotheists? No. Not just yet.

4.) Sorta is a circular logic thing. We know about the change of character only from the Gospels which were written for a specific reason.

Anyway… do you have any questions or concerns which seem to undermine the Resurrection of Jesus Christ?

Note that these are tough questions ‘of’ the Resurrection, not ‘on.’ There is a reason.

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N.T. Wright on the Resurrection vs. Heaven

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As you know by now, we are reading through N.T. Wright’s, Surprised by Hope, and as I do, I might share a few thoughts on the matter. In the section which this quote comes from, Wright is making the case that the Christian hope is not about ‘going’ to heaven’ but about the Resurrection. When we started to move from the notion that the Resurrection (you know, Easter) was the essential Christian hope to the idea that heaven is the be all end all.

Resurrection by contrast has always gone with a strong view of God’s justice and God as the good creator. Those twin beliefs give rise not to a meek acquiescence to injustice in the world but a robust determination to oppose it.  (p27)

He makes the point that when Christian society entered the revivalist phase in the West, when ‘going to heaven’ become the goal and not merely the Resurrection, that we lost our drive to correct the ills around us. No more Wilberforce or Wesley. Now, it was about escapism. Getting out of dodge. Who cares about what is left here.

And we can see that today in our American political system, where individualism reigns supreme, where greed is the idol of many, where, it is about ‘he who dies with the most toys wins’ attitude or the ‘Even so, come Lord Jesus and get me out of here’ mentality. You know who you are.

The Resurrection is a corporate event, encompassing the Church, them, God, Christ, the New Earth and the New Heavens and the New Jerusalem.

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Jerusalem, The Golden

My wife and I are reading, N.T. Wright’s, Surprised by Hope, and the aged Bishop mentioned the quality of hymns which had plagued us for the last century or so. While not explicitly mentioned ‘I Fly Away’, the thought of it was in my mind because so often, theologians stump on that song as the song not to sing in Church. Frankly, I like the song, although it may be bad theology. It is Christian Escapism, and is not exactly the most biblical song. Wright mentioned this song, so like any good Wrightian, I’ve adopted it as my personal standard…

Maybe not, but I thought that I might share it with you nevertheless.

Wright makes the point that in Revelation, after the Resurrection, it is not the Saints which ascend to heaven, but Heaven descends to earth, marrying the two. In the belief of ‘going to heaven’ we lose sight of this marriage which is found better expressed in the doctrine of the Resurrection.

Words: Bernard of Morlaix, 1146 (Urbs Si­on aur­ea); trans­lat­ed from La­tin to En­glish by John M. Neale, 1858.

Jerusalem the golden, with milk and honey blest,
Beneath thy contemplation sink heart and voice oppressed.
I know not, O I know not, what joys await us there,
What radiancy of glory, what bliss beyond compare.

They stand, those halls of Zion, all jubilant with song,
And bright with many an angel, and all the martyr throng;
The Prince is ever in them, the daylight is serene.
The pastures of the blessèd are decked in glorious sheen.

There is the throne of David, and there, from care released,
The shout of them that triumph, the song of them that feast;
And they, who with their Leader, have conquered in the fight,
Forever and forever are clad in robes of white.

O sweet and blessèd country, the home of God’s elect!
O sweet and blessèd country, that eager hearts expect!
Jesus, in mercy bring us to that dear land of rest,
Who art, with God the Father, and Spirit, ever blessed.

Brief life is here our portion, brief sorrow, short lived care;
The life that knows no ending, the tearless life, is there.
O happy retribution! Short toil, eternal rest;
For mortals and for sinners, a mansion with the blest.

That we should look, poor wanderers, to have our home on high!
That worms should seek for dwellings beyond the starry sky!
And now we fight the battle, but then shall wear the crown
Of full and everlasting, and passionless renown.

And how we watch and struggle, and now we live in hope,
And Zion in her anguish with Babylon must cope;
But he whom now we trust in shall then be seen and known,
And they that know and see Him shall have Him for their own.

For thee, O dear, dear country, mine eyes their vigils keep;
For very love, beholding, thy happy name, they weep:
The mention of thy glory is unction to the breast,
And medicine in sickness, and love, and life, and rest.

O one, O only mansion! O paradise of joy!
Where tears are ever banished, and smiles have no alloy;
The cross is all thy splendor, the Crucified thy praise,
His laud and benediction thy ransomed people raise.

Jerusalem the glorious! Glory of the elect!
O dear and future vision that eager hearts expect!
Even now by faith I see thee, even here thy walls discern;
To thee my thoughts are kindled, and strive, and pant, and yearn.

Jerusalem, the only, that look’st from heaven below,
In thee is all my glory, in me is all my woe!
And though my body may not, my spirit seeks thee fain,
Till flesh and earth return me to earth and flesh again.

Jerusalem, exulting on that securest shore,
I hope thee, wish thee, sing thee, and love thee evermore!
I ask not for my merit: I seek not to deny
My merit is destruction, a child of wrath am I.

But yet with faith I venture and hope upon the way,
For those perennial guerdons I labor night and day.
The best and dearest Father Who made me, and Who saved,
Bore with me in defilement, and from defilement laved.

When in His strength I struggle, for very joy I leap;
When in my sin I totter, I weep, or try to weep:
And grace, sweet grace celestial, shall all its love display,
And David’s royal fountain purge every stain away.

O sweet and blessèd country, shall I ever see thy face?
O sweet and blessèd country, shall I ever win thy grace?
I have the hope within me to comfort and to bless!
Shall I ever win the prize itself? O tell me, tell me, Yes!

Strive, man, to win that glory; toil, man, to gain that light;
Send hope before to grasp it, till hope be lost in sight.
Exult, O dust and ashes, the Lord shall be thy part:
His only, His forever thou shalt be, and thou art.

Review: The Human Body in Death and Resurrection (Deuterocanonical and Cognate Literature: Yearbook 2009)

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As it has done for the past several years, the German publishing house, Walter De Gruyter, has published the papers given at the annual conferences of the International Society for the Study of Deuterocanonical and Cognate Literature in a yearbook. The aim of the society is ‘academic research into the deuterocanonical and cognate literature on an international, interconfessional and interreligious basis, through the preparation of scholarly materials‘. Each yearbook is of exceptional physical and scholarly quality which will last for years beyond the publication. Several of the articles are translations into English, but with no difficult for the reader. Further, the book is bilingual, with a good split between German and English essays.

The Yearbook takes a broad swath of history into account and presents a coherent picture in the belief in bodily resurrection as it developed among the various communities, from those before Moses up until Matthean community, even investigating the Gnostics which thrived some time after the last Gospels were written. Each author, a specialist in his or her field, takes a subject and in easy to understand language, shows the various aspects of the belief which arose in Palestine before the time of Christ concerning the bodily resurrection of the Righteous.

Not resigning itself to any particular viewpoint, the yearbook allows the reader to engage at a scholarly level various books, works, and religious systems in examining the wide-ranging views. It is interesting, as several authors point out, that the bodily resurrection was seen as vital to the Judaism which survived the destruction of the Temple. Further, while most scholarship is inclined to not see resurrection in the Hebrew bible, several of these essays call attention to the fact that indeed, that belief can be found among the ancient sacred writings to Jews and Christians alike. It is highly recommend that those interested in both fields of research – Deuterocanon and various theological beliefs pre-CE – examine this book for rich, new insights into the idea that somehow and in somewhat, the existence of a good person does not end, but goes on, generally in a form much like what is seen in the ‘real’ world. Socially, culturally, and anthropologically this is an important book, and is highly recommended.

The essays are:

  1. Resurrection of the Body in Early Judaism and Christian – Claudia Setzer
  2. The Impurity of the Corpse (nasa) and the Future of the Body (tan i pasen): Death and the Afterlife in Zoroasterianism – Manfred Hutter
  3. Resurrection and the Body in Graeco-Roman Egypt – Mark Smith
  4. Die Unreinheit der Leiche nach der Tora – Thomas Hieke
  5. The Revivification of the Dry Bones: Ezekiel 37.1-14 – Karin Schopflin
  6. Death and Buriel in the Tobit Narration in the Context of the Old Testament Tradition – Beate Ego
  7. Auferstehung und Epiphanie: Jenseits- und Korperkonzepte im Zweiten Makkabaerbuch – Barbara Schmitz
  8. Tod und Erkenntnis in der antik=judischen Weisheit – Stefan Beyerle
  9. Die Vorstellung vom Tod und den Toten nach Ben Sira – Friedrich Reiterer
  10. Afterlife in Jubilees: Through a Covenantal Prism – Richard J. Bautch
  11. Bones, Bodies and Resurrection in the Dead Sea Scrolls – Mladen Popovic
  12. Resurrection of the Body in Early Rabbinic Judaism – Alan J. Avery-Peck
  13. Human Body and Life beyond Death in Matthew’s Gospel – Wim J.C. Weren
  14. Leiblichkeit und Auferstehung im Johannesevangelium – Jorg Frey
  15. ,,Die Seelen der Geschlachteten” (Offb 6,9)? Zum Propblem leiblicher Auferstehung in der Offenbarung des Johannes – Tobias Nicklas
  16. Dialogues with the Archons: The Post-mortem Encounters of the Ascending Soul in Gnostic Texts – Einar Thomassen
  17. Die Auferstehung des Fleisches in den fruhchristlichen Grabinschriften – Jutta Dresken-Weiland
  18. Why Body matters in the Afterlife. Mine Reading and Body Imagery in Synoptic Tradition and the Apocalypse of Peter – Istvan Czachesz
  19. Lebendige Tote? Zum Personenkult um gestobene Gottsmenschen in der Gegenwart – Hubertus Lutterbach