Unsettled Christianity

Gloria Dei homo vivens – St Irenaeus
November 16th, 2018 by Joel Watts

Review: @AccordanceBible’s “Pseudo-Clementine Homilies (Tagged Greek, English, and Notes)” #SBLAAR18

The study of the Pseudo-Clementine Homilies is, in my opinion, a rather important one in light of current discussions of inerrancy and interpretative strategies. Long before there were buckets to throw Scripture in and long after Marcion, there emerged a sect of Christians struggling with passages in the Old Testament that did not seem to meet their expectations. Include in these homilies are ways Christians dealt with those passages and they sought to remain true to pre-Nicene orthodoxy. And fill in the gaps about some of the Apostles along the way.

I am truly excited about this module. The P-C Homilies reveals a stilling struggling orthodoxy involving the role of the Old Testament. They did not want to unhitch the faith from the Hebrew bible, but they struggled with passages they could not easily align with their view of God via Jesus.

The module is simple… but for those studying early Christian history — for those studying views of Scripture… and indeed, those struggling with their own views and pull to unhitch, having this module is a necessity.

Having it in Accordance makes it easy to read and to ponder in both English and the original Greek.

From Accordance:

This edition of the Pseudo-Clementine Homilies is based on the Greek column of the Migne edition. It includes two epistles to James (one from Peter and one from Clement) that serve as instructions on using the Homilies. The Homilies themselves are a sort of narrative about how Clement (either pope Clement I or a Titus Flavius Clemens) became the apostle Peter’s traveling companion and observed many of his discourses and miracles. They are considered “Pseudo-Clementines” in that while Clement I died in AD 99, these writings are commonly dated in the early 4th century, but before the Council of Nicea (c. 300-320 AD).

This product includes individual modules for 1) Greek text, 2) English translation, and 3) Notes.

 

November 16th, 2018 by Joel Watts

Review: @AccordanceBible’s “Discovering the Septuagint: A Guided Reader” #SBLAAR18

While I love the Septuagint, I have purposely avoided Jobe’s 2016 work in hard copy for several, materialistic, reasons. I did not want a hard copy to have to carry around. Second, I knew soon or later a good electronic copy would come out that would allow me to experience the Reader in all of its glory, including taggings and easy look up. Behold, my patience has paid off.

Any more, I’m using Accordance more and more on my iPad pro due to the portability of it (data space). So these pics are going to be there there.

i feel like this image is self-explanatory.

One of the best aspects of having an electronic version is the ability to quickly get to what you want i and search for what you want. Here, you can see the table of contents.

I haven’t gone through the entire list to see if it is complete. Allusions are my game, you know. But having a list like this ONLY REINFORCES THE IDEA that the New Testament writers used the Greek translations of the Hebrew bible.

 

This is why I like the electronic version, reason #1045… you can pop up the necessary bible verse. As you can see, I have it keyed to the NETS, which is my go-to OT translation. Just like St. Augustine and the entire Eastern part of the Church.

this is the iPad pro page. The tags are helpful so that I don’t have to flip back and forth.

As an added feature, let me show you what this looks like alongside the Göttingen:

Besides the awesome features that bring the book to life, the book is well written, complete with introductions highlighting the features of the Greek versions.

From Accordance:

Interest in the Septuagint today continues to grow stronger. Despite that interest, students have lacked a guidebook to the text similar to the readers and handbooks that exist for the Greek New Testament. Discovering the Septuagint: A Guided Reader fills that need. Created by an expert on the Septuagint, this groundbreaking resource draws on Jobes’s experience as an educator in order to help upper–level college, seminary, and graduate students cultivate skill in reading the Greek Old Testament.

This reader presents, in Septuagint canonical order, ten Greek texts from the Rahlfs—Hanhart Septuaginta critical edition. It explains the syntax, grammar, and vocabulary of more than 700 verses from select Old Testament texts representing a variety of genres, including the Psalms, the Prophets, and more.

The texts selected for this volume were chosen to fit into a typical semester. Each text (1) is an example of distinctive Septuagint syntax or word usage; (2) exemplifies the amplification of certain theological themes or motifs by the Septuagint translators within their Jewish Hellenistic culture; and/or (3) is used significantly by New Testament writers.

 

November 16th, 2018 by Joel Watts

Review: @AccordanceBible’s LXX Göttingen: Big 19 Bundle (34 Books plus Apparatus) #SBLAAR18

First, the good:

It downloads quickly to both the iPad and my Macbook. But, it is intended to do that. Accordance is the smooth software program for Apple, but more than that… it is small and lightweight.

Second, the why:

The Göttingen Septuagint on Accordance includes everything in the print edition — except the huge amount of space one needs to have it. Further, because it is highlighted/tagged and included the apparatus, serious — and the sometimes serious— students of the Church’s first bible can easily find what they need. Because it is on Accordance, you can easily look up the Greek which helps when you are trying to find connections between Sirach and the New Testament or Church Fathers.

Let me show you what it looks like:

The iPad Pro look

 

On the MacBook Pro with the Apparatus

This is an ideal format for studying the LXX. It is tagged and tagged well.

From Accordance:

The Göttingen Septuagint (Vetus Testamentum Graecum: Auctoritate Academiae Scientiarum Gottingensis editum) is a major critical version, comprising multiple volumes published from 1931 to the present and not yet complete. Its critical apparatus presents variant Septuagint readings and variants from other Greek versions. Print value is over $2800.

This product includes the grammatically tagged critical text of the books listed below together with the accompanying apparatus.

  • Genesis (Band 1: Genesis) with apparatus (1974)
  • Exodus (Band 2.1: Exodus) with apparatus (1991)
  • Leviticus (Band 2.2: Leviticus) with apparatus (1986)
  • Numbers (Band 3.1: Numeri) with apparatus (1982)
  • Deuteronomy (Band 3.2: Deruteronomium) with apparatus (1977)
    • The 5 volumes listed above are combined in a single text module (LXXG-PENT) along with its apparatus (LXXG-PENT Apparatus)
  • Ruth (Band 4.3: Ruth) with apparatus (2006)
  • 2 Chronicles (Band 7.2: Paralipomenon liber II) with apparatus (2014)
  • 1 Ezra (Band 8.1: Esdrae liber I) with apparatus (1991)
  • 2 Ezra: Ezra – Nehemiah (Band 8.2: Esdrae liber II) with apparatus (1993)
  • Esther (Band 8.3: Esther) with apparatus (1983)
  • 1 Maccabees (Band 9.1: Maccabaeorum liber I) with apparatus (1990)
  • 2 Maccabees (Band 9.2: Maccabaeorum liber II) with apparatus (1976)
  • Psalms and Odes (Band 10: Psalmi Cum Odis) with apparatus (1979)
  • Job (Band 11.4: Iob) with two (2) apparatus (1982)
  • Sirach (Band 12.2: Sapientia Jesu filii Sirach) with apparatus (1981)
  • 12 Minor Prophets (Band 13: Duodecim Prophetae) with two (2) apparatus (1984)
  • Isaiah (Band 14: Isaias) with two (2) apparatus (1983)
  • Jeremiah, Baruch, Lamentations, and the Epistle of Jeremiah (Band 15: Jeremias, Baruch, Threni, Epistula Jeremiae) with two (2) apparatus (2004)
  • Ezekiel (Band 16.1: Ezechiel) with two (2) apparatus (1978)
November 14th, 2018 by Scott Fritzsche

Crossing Swords

I have, according to many, committed the unforgivable sin. I dared to have concerns about  the Wesleyan covenant Association. Have no fear however, dear reader, I have been firmly chastised for my mistake by members of the WCA, including ordained elders in the UMC, across a variety of forums and in personal messages. The chastisement did not take, but it happened. Oddly enough, some of these concerns were the same ones I voiced two years ago.  These concerns are also those I have voiced about the UMC in general over the past four years of writing. The point being these are not new. In fact, when I voiced these very same concerns about the UMC, many in the WCA applauded me for doing so and pointed to them as a sign of the problems in the denomination. Whatever concerns I had about the Wesleyan Covenant Association are all overshadowed by this chastisement however, and really the behavior of the rank and file of the WCA.
I have a deep and abiding respect for pastors. When a pastor says something, I take it seriously, I examine it, mull it over, contemplate and meditate upon it. I do this because I believe in the call. I believe that pastors have been called by God to lead the church that Christ started. So, when a pastor, whether it is mine or not, explains to me that I do not care enough about doctrine, that I do not care about the direction of the UMC, that I am unwilling to use my resources, including monetary ones, for the advancement of the church, and thus the Kingdom of God, that I would refuse to “cross swords with” (their words) my pastor over the WCA if it came to it, and that every concern that I have is frivolous and amounts to nothing, I take that seriously. When it is more than one pastor that says it, I take it more seriously. I also have a long memory. In grade school, I was the quiet kid. I was smaller than everyone else, and that, combined with my being the quiet one (I know it is difficult to believe that I was ever quiet lol), led to the predictable childhood bullying. These things happen, and kids can be cruel, I understand all of that, and do not feel as if I was overly victimized, but I do remember what that felt like, even now some decades later. It feels a lot like pastors in the WCA levying personal and slanderous statements designed to discredit concerns instead of addressing them.
I hear and read pastors and laity in the WCA commenting on a variety of topics, like we all do from time to time. All to often, I hear them comment in dehumanizing ways about people. Most recently, it has been about the migrants coming from Central America. Let me be perfectly clear here, Christians can, and do, differ on what we feel are the best immigration policies for the nation. That is not only perfectly normal, I think it is healthy as it demonstrates individual thoughts and ideas that can be brought to the table to find solutions. I am not talking about conversations about political policy, I am talking about the abject failure to recognize these sojourners as bearers of the Imago Dei, and as such, human beings, just like us. It is not just the migrants however, it is pretty much anyone that is remotely “undesirable”. Gang members are animals, drug addicts, most specifically those using opioids, should be left to die instead of receiving life saving treatment, women who have had abortions being consigned to hell for eternity because of that choice, those who experienced same sex attraction being beyond redemption, no matter if they act upon it or not, women abused physically, emotionally, and sexually, that are living in perpetual adultery because they left their husbands due to such abuse and had the audacity to get married again as their husbands may have done horrible things, but they did not cheat on them after all, and really, the list goes on. Your members seem to take a perverse enjoyment of consigning people to hell, and frankly, that job is way above any of our pay grades. I myself have been told that I am assisting Satan in leading people to hell through the LGBTQ agenda because I was not troubled that the Rockefeller Christmas tree was from a farm that happened to be owned by a married lesbian couple. I have been told that I am serving the adversary because I do not blindly support the current president in all of his policies. I mean really? I serve Satan because I do not blindly follow an earthly king? I will put that in my list of things Jesus never said. This is what I hear from all to many of the rank and file in the WCA, pastors and laity alike. This is the message they are spreading and this is the way they are recruiting others like them to join. That is certainly not anything resembling a Wesleyan view of scripture.
There is the pressure of the false dichotomy that it is the WCA, or it is nothing. This is how the rank and file often presents things. It is a fear based bullying tactic that tries to convince people that this is their only option for faithful witness to the historic faith as understood by Wesleyans. If you care about, and really insert whatever you would like here, then you have to join the WCA because that is the only way to protect that. Let me take just a moment to remind you that the faith will not disappear as the gates of hell will not prevail against it. Pragmatic action is not always faithful action after all.  Our choice is not the WCA or nothing, it is faithful witness or nothing, and one can live a faithful life outside of the WCA, but to listen to many of the rank and file, that is not so. I know that you are the big bully on the block and that I am just a little guy, but I learned to stand up to the bully. My personal favorite is the offers to pay for my membership for a year. Just try it, if you don’t like it, don’t renew. It reminds me a lot of my old drug dealer. First taste is always free.
I mention things like this and I am reminded of the leadership, and how good it is. This is true. Many of the best theological minds in Methodism are part of the leadership. I can accept that the leadership is amazing, but that is not the problem. The problem is who they lead. The best shepherd can lead a diseased flock, but the disease will remain. It’s not all of us I hear, and that is correct. I personally know many wonderful pastors and laity that are in the WCA. The problem is that for every one wonderful and faithful follower in the WCA I know, I meet three more that reflect the above. The abyss has stared back and you have become the monster that you fought. When a group reflects more of  Nitzsche’s paradox than it does a wesleyan view of scripture, then it does not deserve the title it claims. Your rank and file does this. I get it. There is very real pain and hurt from this thing, but that is no excuse. We need to be better and rise above it, not to fuel it.
You can say all the right things about theology, and by and large, the WCA does. The problem is that it has not become practical and lived out. If your theology causes you to treat people as anything less than those who have been created with the Imago Dei, it is wrong. If your theology leads to to consign people to hell assuming the role of God, then it is wrong. If your theology causes you to look at those who agree with it, but won’t pay the membership fee, as agents of Satan, then it is wrong. To many of your rank and file are wrong and the vast majority of experiences that I have had over the past two years shows me that, even if my experiences with the WCA membership is unique, that even if I have had the misfortune of meeting the worst that the WCA has to offer, it has outnumbered the best. False teaching in the church is always  struggle, and the WCA was formed to counter that. That is a noble endeavor. False teaching is more than the scripture we quote or how we understand it however, it is also how we live it. This was one of the central points that Christ was trying to point out to in the admonishment of the Pharisees. Earlier I mentioned the pastor who had specifically accused me of not being willing to “cross swords”.  I mulled over that as much as I did everything else, and he likely had a point. I have been largely unwilling to cross swords, though not with my pastor, or any pastor, but with the WCA, over the rank and file of it’s membership, how they treat people who disagree, or have concerns, the way they speak about the least and the lost. Consider my sword drawn. Here’s my thrust.
“Woe to them! For they went the way of Cain, and gave themselves up to the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Korah. These are sunken rocks in your love feasts, feasting together with you; feeding themselves without fear; waterless clouds being carried about by winds; fruitless autumn trees, having died twice, having been plucked up by the roots; wild waves of the sea foaming up their shames; wandering stars for whom blackness of darkness has been kept forever.” (Jude 1:11-13)
November 10th, 2018 by Scott Fritzsche

How the WCA Can Reach Me.

More than one person has asked me what it would take for the Wesleyan covenant Association to reach me and to have me join. To be truthful, I have mostly dodged the question, but it has been asked often enough that it deserves an answer, however unpopular it may be. I am going to address what it would take in a series of points, in no particular order, so that when asked in the future, I can simply refer people here, but also so that those who have asked get a well deserved answer.  Going into this I want to admit freely that I am cynical of pretty much any UMC group like this no matter it’s theological “side”. I am not, nor have I ever been, a member of a UMC advocacy group. I mention this so that it is known upfront, taken into account when reading, and perhaps it will illuminate some of my concerns somehow.
1. The WCA, as would be expected, has issued statements about what they believe about the Bible. Those statements can be found through their website. (https://wesleyancovenant.org/about-page/#1533314242168-c269fe11-86cb) I completely agree with their statement on Biblical authority, and also on their statement of faith introduction which reads: “We affirm classical Wesleyan doctrine and the historic faith, which the church has used to define the parameters of Christian teaching. Doctrine, properly understood, unifies the church and gives direction to its life. ” This is a beautiful and powerful statement. Other beliefs are listed, but there is nothing about how scripture is to be viewed. I understand that much of what is said alludes to what is known as infallibility, there is nothing that says so succinctly. The literal inerrant view of the Bible is a distinctly modern view of scripture (the last 100 years or so), that says the Bible contains no errors whatsoever. The history of this is easy to find, so I will not delve into it here. The infallible understanding of scripture affirms that the Bible is true in faith and practice, but does recognize that while it contains history, it is not a history book, and while it contains things scientific, it is not a science text. Yes, matters of faith and practice are trustworthy and true, without a doubt, but other items may not be.
What is the big deal you ask? Part of the big deal is history. What history has shown in, both within this denomination, and in the church catholic, is that when there are two competing views of scripture, there will inevitably be conflict, and often severe conflict. We are seeing this in the UMC now. Part of it is my step son. IF his pastor or Sunday school teacher is teaching from a modern literal inerrant view point, it creates potential conflict with what is being taught to him at home. I have already had to many instances of having to unteach what he has been taught at church.  Sooner or later, this disagreement on how the Bible is to be viewed will bubble over into needless argument and disagreement. To reach me, the WCA needs to decide if the scriptures are literally inerrant, infallible, etc.  There needs to be some understanding of how the Bible is to be viewed and at least some basic guidance on how it is to be best interpreted.
2. The WCA affirms the Articles of Religion and the Confession of Faith of the EUB. This is good. What I think is needed is some attached commentary, much like Asbury and Coke did with the first MEC Discipline, that explains what they mean. Again, in the UMC right now, we have lots of people who affirm these two things. Many of those who affirm them have a drastically different understanding of what they actually mean. We need some clarity to avoid the same problems we have now going forward.
3. In looking at the WCA council, it appears that there are twenty six individuals there. Of that number, only five re not Reverends, Doctors, or Reverend Doctors. That is a concern to me. In a denomination that took over America on the back of it’s laity, I would have expected a more equal representation here. In the future, I think that I would need some assurances that the leadership will include a more equitable breakdown.
4. I am not paying a membership fee, nor am I accepting a grant that would forgive it, or another to pay it for me. This has been offered. The amount is $100. Whether you think that a lot, a little, or somewhere in between, I am not paying. My $100 gives me a vote, and the ability to come to conferences that I can not afford to go to anyway. It seems to me a problem that if the claim is that the WCA is the best expression of Wesleyan faith available, that it would be charged for. I have never had to pay to be a part of the faith, nor have I ever had to pay to have a voice. I am not starting now. There is no mandatory cost to be a part of the Wesleyan faith, so it seems to me there should not be a mandatory cost to be a part of it’s main proponent.
5. As a member, there are obligations. This is true of any group of course. As laity, I have issues with some of the obligations of membership. “2.  Advocating for the WCA in their local church”. I will do no such thing. The local church I am a member of is entrusted, through our appointment system, to an amazing team of two pastors, and I will not advocate for anything that might even remotely damage their ministry in the local church. Should my pastors wish to do this, I trust that the Spirit has moved them to, but I will not. I will advocate Christ and Him crucified, the faith once and for all delivered, etc. but I will not, under any circumstances, advocate for any para-church group within my local church. I find that rather disrespectful to my pastors and the mission of the local church. “3.  Spreading the word about the WCA to neighboring congregations, clergy, and laity, encouraging their participation as appropriate” Much as I would not do this in my own church, I will also not do it in another church for the same reasons. More than this, all individual members are asked to do this, including pastors. It would not take to long before I walked out of a church where my pastor was openly advocating for a para-church group on a regular basis. It would not take me long to leave. I have come to church to be a part of Christian fellowship, not to be recruited for a group outside.
6. This is the tough one, and one that there is likely not a hard and fast solution to. When I hear and read the words of many WCA members, I can not tell the difference in vitriol between them and Love Prevails or Reconcilling Ministries. The language is different of course, as are many of the theological issues, but I can not tell the difference. I want to be a part of something better, not something that is so anger and hate filled. I want to be a part of a church that is political, there is no choice really as we are a kingdom, but not partisan. The only government that we should be endorsing in a Royal Monarchy with Christ on the throne and us as co-heirs. I read people talking about immigration, for example, that seem incapable of actually viewing those fleeing here as human. I read posts on gun control that tell me that I am either a murderer, or hate God and America. I read posts that talk of LGBTQ individuals being the tools of Satan. There is no place for any of this. It is a symptom of our deep spiritual sickness, and frankly I am afraid that it is being built into the foundations of the WCA due to all the vitriolic rhetoric that we see. I don’t know how that is fixed. Maybe strong statements from leadership on issues as they arise not from an earthly kingdom standpoint, but from the standpoint of the only kingdom that matters? I don’t know. I only know that it is concerning.
There are some other things that I think would be beneficial for the WCA to do, but they do not rise to the level of something I actually have an issue with. These are the five main things that concern me and that keep me from the WCA. These, by and large, outline what the WCA needs to address to get to me. I am not saying that the WCA should. I believe that any organization has the right to set their boundaries and policies. I am not saying that the WCA can. I am unsure about how their internal structure works. I am not saying that the WCA will. I hope that those reading this take it into consideration of course, but I am not expecting change just because there are things I am uncomfortable with. The question has been asked often enough that it deserves an answer. That is all this is. Take it then as you will.
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