Thursday, June 28, 2007

Keeping the conversation going...

...or at least trying to.

Two previous posts, Universalism and Apostates, have brought up a couple of things I want to address. I am sad that Mr. Thompson of Bride has decided not to discuss his recent theological shift. But who needs him! We have some pretty sharp people stopping by and commenting. I am honored and glad that you all have taken the time to talk about what's on my mind.

Dr. Lobojo has raised some questions about the authorship of the book of Hebrews. I think he and I would agree that it probably does not matter nor can we really know for sure who the author is. So, then why write about it? I would say maybe there is a bigger picture.

That would be of canonicity. But more on that in a little bit. As stated, I don't know that it matters, but here are my thoughts on authorship of Hebrews. It was probably not Paul. Dr. Lobojo suggests it was a Roman Greek; i.e. it was written in Greek by a Roman (see Heb 13:24-Those from Italy send you greetings.) At first I disagreed. But he does have a point. It was written in Greek and seemingly from Italy. And among all the possible candidates a "Roman Greek" could be possible. Here is the list of potentials

  • Barnabas
  • Apollos
  • Silas
  • Priscilla and/or Aquila
  • Clement of Rome
  • Peter
  • Luke
  • and others that I have not come across
So, if you look at the list most of them could be situated in Rome and writing the book of Hebrews in Greek. (I have personal doubts about Peter, his Greek is atrocious and the Greek of the author of Hebrews seems to be "polished.") At first, I understood "Roman Greek" to be a Greek national who had been Romanized culturally. And maybe these were, but in my mind I was thinking someone who had no connection to Judaism, and the author of Hebrews is intimately familiar with Judaism of the day and is addressing a "Messianic" people. Therefore, the author and audience couldn't have been completely Gentile (a Roman Greek) without any connection to Judaism.

Now that that is out of the way. Dr. Lobojo and ER both are supicious of the canon. ER is more concerned over conveying the Word of God instead of being the Word of God. Dr. Lobojo questions the canon's legitamacy. So, before we stone them for being heretics (smile), let's hear them out.

First, who got to decide what it was that God wanted to communicate? And who got to decide which books and writings were communicating God's words? There are tons of books out there that were written along beside the ones we have in our Bibles; and if you're Catholic there's even more.

Second, can we trust the Church Councils on their decisions in relationship to the canon? And what do we do if we mistrust their decisions? For instance, the question of authorship of the book of Hebrews caused it to be delayed as canon until the 4th century. Even Martin Luther questioned whether it should have been in the canon, but later agreed it should have. (The point is, he questioned the canon, and he was a Reformer.)

Thirdly, many of you may have already figured this out, help the rest of us.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Talking about the OT...

...always brings its share of comments.

So, today was another house church day, where I got to be priest and parishioner at the same time. Lady R also got to be priest for awhile as we finished up Judges.

Granted, this book is very enigmatic. It tells of a time when the people of Israel were so far away from their Hebrew traditions. They had forgotten their God completely. Granted also, it is the Old Testament, but being a child of the Enlightenment as well as a child of the Light through the Spirit, I believe I can understand something of what it says. Granted still, women did not have the same rights as they do in the Western world. Despite all this, surely the Old Testament, and specifically here the book of Judges, has something to say to the community of faith.

Now, that I have all the preface words written, I can get to the heart of what I want to say (important or not). haha

Sometimes there are failures, even when God has put his hand of favor on the project. But eventually a victory will occur. (see Judges 20 -For the entire context you may need to go back to ch 18).

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The fate of those apostates

Sometimes it seems in our day that good ole timey biblical exposition has become a thing of the past. So, for those who enjoy good biblical exposition within the community of faith, I propose a question (or two to you).

What is the meaning of Hebrews 5:11-6:8?

Sub questions:
Can or can't you lose your salvation?
If so, how can you get it back?
If not, what about apostasy? What is this verse saying about the "hypothetical" apostate condition?

If man has a free-will to chose God, will God override his free-will if that person decides to apostatize?
Is there any hope for those who have left the faith?

What would you say it takes to really become an apostate?
Is apostasy the same as the unpardonable sin (blaspheming the Holy Spirit-unbelief)?

Do you know of any apostates?

Can't wait to hear your answers (and I am being serious).

Monday, June 11, 2007

Universalists come forward

I know (or at least I think I do) the spiritual background of a few (surely not all) of the readers to this site. There are Assemblies, Baptists, Anglicans, a couple of agnostics/atheists, a few Reformers, those searching, among others as well as one maybe two Universalist-Unitarians.

Recently, I discovered another person who has become a Universalist (and I am assuming an Unitarian also). I have invited Christian hard-rock/metal lead vocalist Dale Thompson of Bride to talk about (and clarify if he wishes) his universalism. Of course, I hope you all join in also. I will ask that we all play fair whether we agree or disagree.

Dale is my guest here, and I know he will be respected by everyone.

Dale has asked the question, "Did Jesus die to appease an angry God?" His answer is no. So, I'll ask you, "Did Jesus die to appease an angry God?" So we are not caught up in semantics, can I rephrase it, "Did Jesus death appease the wrath of God?" if that is not, in essence, what Dale was asking, he can correct me.

Secondly, Dale has offered some "different" (but certainly not outside of a normal understanding of universalism) interpretations on hell. Basically, "hell" is for "Complete restoration and reconciliation."

Thirdly, are there any Scriptures to suggest the doctrine of universalism is correct. Here are the major ones:

I have examined this doctrine before, in my former seminary life. I read a little John Murray, but was not convinced at all. It sounds very nice, that every person who has ever been conceived will make it into heaven. Therefore, it doesn't really matter which little god you follow, they will all lead you to "God" in the end.

As it has been stated before me by those much wiser than I, in my heart of hearts I want universalism to be true, but there just isn't any Scriptural basis for it. Now, I am not saying that to pick a theological fight with anyone. If I wanted to pick a fight, I wouldn't pick on the loving universalists (Unitarians). Most of the ones I know would make perfect neighbors. If I wanted a fight, I'd pick on my Reformed brothers. They love the fight and are always up for it and will fight and fight and fight. And who can blame them, they are the elected ones. So, even though the Reformers and the Universalists are polar opposites (in more than one way), they share a huge commonality, that forces me to not believe either one of them's system (yeah I know it ain't good English). They both believe that God will and desires to over ride the free-will he has given his Creation. And based on that, I can't be a Calvinist nor an Universalist (and especially not a Unitarian-but that's for another time).

For some reason I keep hearing..."And she's climbing the" Smile, God still loves both of us.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Feeding the Birds

The other day we found some bird balls that you attatch in your trees to feed the birds. The birds here are somewhat different than back home. There are blue ones, yellow ones, black ones, big ones and small ones. So, it has been fun looking out the window and seeing the birdies stopping by for a snack along the way.

It got me thinking. Feeding the birds is like evangelism and perhaps in the bigger picture like spirituality. Somehow the birds of the earth are taken care of, even though they don't build houses, nor work in the fields. Ultimately, God feeds them, but God himself does not feed them directly. It's not like there is a big table somewhere in the sky that the birds come to in which God has personally cooked up their favorite meal. But he has put into play on this planet plants and insects and rats (I love the sparrowhawks that swoop down to get the field mice here). The birds know where they can find food. They are feed.

I always feel I am doing a little part of my terrestrial duty and possibly cosmic duty when I give the birds seed or bread crumbs. I feel God is allowing me to be an instrument in getting the birds in my area something to eat. Regardless if I set out little bird balls or not, the birds will be feed. But if I decide to participate in the bird feeding program of God, He uses me to help them. I also get the pleasure of watching them as they consume the goodies.

Same thing with my life. God's will for planet Earth will be accomplished with or without me. And if Tom Wolfe is right (and I think he is) that God is having a converastion with every single person, then I can be an instrument for that conversation with those around me. Let me be clear. God will have his conversation with everyone, with or without me, but why not be like a bird feeder!

Mat 6:26 Look at the birds of the sky: they do not sow, or reap, or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren't you more valuable than they are?