Thursday, October 29, 2009

Discussion Question: David, Blood, Jesus, and the Temple

Just throwing this out there: is there a significant connection between Israel not being able to build the Temple until after David died due to the wars and blood spilled by David at God's command (1st Chronicles 28:3) and the temple of the second covenant not being consecrated until Christ's death (which meant the Holy Spirit could not come until that time) Hebrews 9:17-23 and John 16:7?

Note that Stephen specifically refers to David asking to build a house but Solomon doing it in his long defense before the Sanhedrin (Acts 7:46-47)

Highly recommended Reading

I recently finished reading Justin Martyr's first and second apologies. [Note "apologia" here refers to a defense of a position...not an indication of regret.]

For anyone with even a mildly open-minded view on theology, I would heartily recommend them as a good window into how early Christians, prior to the politicization and codification in the church, saw their faith. It is truly a break from either what is considered "liberal" or "conservative" today.

Apologies are particularly important because they often assume a certain level of ignorance in their audience, so you get a fairly large picture of how someone views the critical components of a position [in this case, Christianity.] In the case of early followers of Jesus, this is especially the case because the biggest problem Christians had to counter was simple ignorance of what they really believed and did.

The copy I read was translated by Leslie William Barnard [ISBN: 0809104725], but I would hope that almost any decent translation would expose some of the more unorthodox (by today's standards) views, though various translators might try to soften some of the specifics.

I noticed that the entirety of Justin Martyr's known work is available at google print (The works now extant of S. Justin the martyr), though some of the work there might be from works now considered spurious.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Two Awesome Verses found for me today

I'm reading David Flusser's "The Sage from Galilee" and a verse was pointed out that I find incredibly important.

Micah 2:13 speaks of the Messiah leading God's people out of a gate after having the strength to break it. The interesting part of the verse is its emphasis on the Messiah going out before them, in advance. John 10:4 holds much the same idea.

This is important to me because I claim the earliest Christians saw Christ as a "trail-blazer" or "pioneer," giving proof of blessings available to them by experiencing them first. Christ was baptized. Christ received the Holy Spirit. Christ put his trust in God ("He who judges righteously" in 1st Peter 2:23) rather than call on angels to save Him, providing an example of how Christians should live. And then Christ was resurrected with a transformed body. These are the elements of Christian salvation as understood by the early Christians (in particular the receipt of the Holy Spirit and then resurrection with a transformed body).

This idea of "trail-blazer" or "pioneer" for the purposes of providing example is, in fact, what the Greek word "archēgos" means. The one used in Acts 3:15, Acts 5:31, Hebrews 2:10 and Hebrews 12:2, but most translations do not convey the notion of "trail-blazer" or "pioneer" because there is a general interest in under-playing Christ as an example or seeing Him as the first Christian martyr.

Instead, the word is translated as "Prince" or "Author" in these verses [the other two meanings according to Thayer's Lexicon.

This discussion of the first verse is linked to another verse shown to me when reading a completely different book. I am also reading the apologies of Justin Martyr. He pointed out a verse commonly used by early defenders of the faith to refer to the idea of Jesus submitting to unjust death out of confidence that God, being good, would not allow a righteous man to be ashamed. This is the idea found in the 1st Peter 2:23 verse I mentioned earlier, but is found throughout that letter.

A crystal clear OT prophecy of Christ submitting to suffering for that purpose is given in Isaiah 50:5-7 !

I really love this aspect of Christ's submission. It really speaks of Christ's faith rather than merely His faithfulness to God's plan. If we think of Christ as merely going through the whole suffering and death for purposes of fulfilling God's plan, it really speaks nothing at all about faith. Faith is confidence in something unseen. If we picture Christ as being absolutely certain of the aftermath [in the way that the Almighty Father was], there is nothing to have faith in because there is nothing unseen to rely on.

However, if we allow Christ to have the dimension of a righteous follower of God who believed so strongly that the Father, being righteous and good, would not allow the extremely shameful crucifixion to be the end of the story, then we see Christ having faith in the in God's attributes. This is exactly the kind of faith Christ calls for in others: "you believe God is powerful, cares about the poor, and is inclined to reward those who do His will...then why don't you act like it?"

I could see that the above depiction of Jesus might seem a bit too humble for some. A "middle road" would be that Jesus had been told by God what would happen and then we see Jesus not having faith in God's attributes but rather God's willingness to do what He said.

However, I think the above is both absurd and very close to what might be reality: Christ had faith in God's Word as shown in the Old Testament. He believed the sketch portrayed there was authentic and could be trusted. Note that this is precisely the kind of faith He attacks His disciples for not having in Luke 24:25-27.

Given that Jesus is the incarnation of God's Word, it would be (in some way I cannot fully wrap my head around) fitting for this latter type to be the kind of faith Jesus had.

I realize this whole discussion may grate on some people who feel it makes Jesus too human by claiming there were things he did not know [in the sense of have evidence for rather mere confidence in.] But He has no problems evincing His ignorance of some aspects of the Father's plan in Mark 13:32 (and note Luke 2:52).

P.S. The content of this passage is not meant to suggest that the only reason Christ submitted to death was for purposes of example.

Monday, October 26, 2009

How can you "murder" the unborn if we say they are not human?

I find this story very odd. A guy is being charged with murder for causing a miscarriage. Doesn't that go against more or less all of our currently accepted understanding of the status of the unborn?

[Note: I'm personally all for considering the unborn as living human beings...I'm just saying this story seems remarkable given how our justice system does not take the same view.]

Saturday, October 24, 2009

California Marriage Protection Act [Outlawing Divorce]

This is an interesting item on the 2010 agenda for California voters.

Essentially, there are many people who are upset by California voting not to allow same-sex marriage last year, so a joke-petition (for lack of a better name) is being considered.

The video advertising for this is both inane and incisive.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Friday, October 9, 2009

NY Times: Scientists believe faith = dementia

Interesting profile on the head of the Human Genome Project, Dr. Francis Collins. He is now the director of Britain's Universal Healthcare regime.

The NY Times writer claims that many scientists believe that outspoken faith is a sign of mild dementia.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Relying on God?

Is this relying on God too much?