New Series by Scot McKnight on Zealotry

Or we could go to the other extreme ...

Or we could go to the other extreme …

Scot McKnight, who has recently published a number of very successful books, has just started a new series at his blog: Zealotry. He writes,

Evangelicals tacitly assume or overtly claim that they believe the whole Bible; they practice the Bible much better; and their theology is based on the Bible and the Bible alone. The contention is simple: liberals deny the Bible; we (evangelicals) don’t; we (evangelicals) are faithful and liberals are unfaithful. Let me suggest that evangelicals, too, do plenty of Bible-denying but they deny in a different way. They question the sufficiency of Scripture at times.

I call this problem Zealotry. Here’s what I mean: Zealotry is conscious zeal to be radically committed, so radically committed that one goes beyond the Bible to defend things that are not in the Bible. Which is the mirror image of the accusation made by many evangelicals against liberals. The “beyond the Bible” stuff is not in the Bible and it means evangelicals get themselves committed to things that are not in the Bible.

Very interesting …

Does this just maybe, possibly, perhaps apply to our tribe?

Profile photo of Jay Guin

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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35 Responses to New Series by Scot McKnight on Zealotry

  1. David Himes says:

    Of course, it does. We are notorious for hiding behind our zealotry, so as to avoid difficult questions.

  2. Mark says:

    Some delete respectful blog comments with which they disagree so as to prevent even a discussion of the topic by ordinary earthlings aka mere mortals.

  3. Monty says:

    All the fish have to swim in the same school. As soon as one fish gets out of line, he’s labeled and branded as a trouble maker, rebel-rouser, liberal. The only thought allowed in the Fish school is the same thought that the previous generation(s) of schools have had (but only up until a certain point in the Fish school past- the time at which orthodoxy was officially restored.) You see they figured it all out for all the future schools of fish only as recently as 100 years ago. Funny thing is, maintaining that line of thought would never have led to the CofC fish school.You see, somewhere way back in the past, individual fish left their schools of thought because they were able to think independently of their particular schools by examining the Fish Manual. At first the keepers of the fish school didn’t want the Fish Manual to be shared with the fish school at large. They feared that would lead to chaos and a loss of power and control. How can you control the school when some individual fish were thinking outside the school of thought? Those fish who thought outside the school of thought but not necessarily outside of the Fish Manual were also labeled troublemakers and unorthodox rebel-rousers from their previous orthodox schools. It all gets confusing doesn’t it? Our very identity as a fish school today was because some individual fish had the audacity to rely on the Fish Manual and not the orthodoxy of the Fish school. History repeats itself it would seem. It would seem apparent that the very individual fish who broke away from the Fish school mentality many years ago that led to our present Fish School wouldn’t be tolerated if they came along today by the current School of Fish that hold the power of the Fish School orthodoxy.

  4. Price says:

    Point out just once that there is never a mention of nor a command to use unleavened bread in all of the NT and see what kind of response you get… whew !!

  5. Dwight says:

    Monty, If you write a book about this “Fish School” concept I will buy it or at least read it. You are exactly right. I forget who said, “If I can but see higher it is because I stand on the shoulders of giants.” Well this can apply to us as well in that we are standing on the shoulders of others, but of course we refuse to recognize them, think we got here by ourselves and often in self-reighteous pride we refuse to see how we got where we are at.
    I am not sure Zealotry is the right word, but self-righteous, after all Paul was a Zealot before being converted and very zealous afterwards as well, he was just simply redirected. Being radical implies going back to the root, which we should endeavor to do, but sometimes we think we are going back and yet are tapping into another root or as noted have bypassed the root all together and are laying groundworks for our own root. Going beyond as law isn’t radical, it is Pharisaical or human tradition. The Pharisees sought to impose things they understood were human trandition as law, because they thought those things were implied, although unstated. They were wrong.

  6. Dwight says:

    Price, while true, it is heavily implied and I mean heavy. Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper from the Passover where there was only unleaved bread. Jesus is called our Passover. The concept of leaven is seen as an impuity in many cases, of which Jesus was pure. But then again you are right. And it is strange that when there is an allusions to the cup, as having significant weight in its concept, that there is push back on this. We don’t want to have more possible thoughts to add to the Lord’s Supper, just two derived from the unleavened bread and the grape juice. The cup was an indication of the sharing of blessing or judgment, which is why Jesus asked God, “Let this cup pass from me.” In the Passover it was a sharing of blessing, even when they shared an element not commanded by God. We hedge ourselves in on all sides by the hedges we grow.

  7. Price says:

    @ Dwight… I guess we can all draw various conclusions but some have said it was the BREAD that was the big deal.. As in “bread of life”… I just found it interesting that nowhere is there any specific mention of unleavened bread to be used.. anytime it’s mentioned, it’s just referred to as bread… One could assume, rightly or wrongly, that the earliest Christians just used the bread they were eating for a normal meal… I mean it’s not like we only do communion on “passover” or only on “Thursdays” which is when Jesus did it.. We just selected the unleavened part and held to it as if it were an instruction.. And, it really isn’t.. Don’t guess it’s a problem since there are no instructions but in keeping with the OP, it’s a “rule” that we impose that doesn’t exist…

  8. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Bobby Valentine has addressed the leavened/unleavened question as well as it can be addressed. Prepare to be surprised at the history of the controversy.

  9. Dwight says:

    In the Passover from which the Lord’s Supper is from, they weren’t allowed to have any chemetz or leavening. In Mark 14:12 “Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they killed the Passover lamb, His disciples said to Him, “Where do You want us to go and prepare, that You may eat the Passover?” The bread here is azymos- or unleavened bread.
    Even though in the Mark 14:22 the word bread-Artos is used to describe bread generically.
    So it was bread, but it was unleavened bread by definition.
    Now, I would argue from the point of symbolisym and concept that was in place even for the Passover, but if we did not have unleaved bread, then I would argue that this doesn’t destroy the main concept of unity and remembrance. The concepts of fruit of the vine and unleavened bread should only enrich and not divide or detract.

  10. Price says:

    Oh, I don’t doubt that the bread at Passover was unleavened… Most assuredly it was… but what about when Paul is speaking about it.. no mention of unleavened… The symbolism is certainly there whether it’s unleavened or not as I mentioned Jesus referred to himself as the “bread of life.” But, can you imagine the uproar that bring regular bread into the assembly would cause in most circles !! I thought this was relevant to the OP.

  11. Dwight says:

    The problem with Bobby Valenites study is that it uses a quote as a premise to indicate that one thing happened after a certain point, without regard to whether it might have been changed before. And he seeks to drive an uncertainty, even though the scriptures are pretty clear.
    God commanded the unleavened bread for the Passover feast and this was carried forth into the NT. In Mark 14:12 “Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they killed the Passover lamb, His disciples said to Him, “Where do You want us to go and prepare, that You may eat the Passover?”” This word is azymos or what would be translated as matzos. And the fact that artos is generic can be seen when they use the word in Mark 14:22 during the Lord’s Supper, but there would not have been any leaven or leavened bread present at all. Jesus did call himself the bread of life (artos), but he also called himself the living water, but there is no water involved in the Lord’s Supper. I Cor.5:7 “Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.”

  12. Dwight says:

    Price, well taken. In some house assemblies, they have a feast/ Lord’s Supper, in which they place the wine and the unleavened bread in the middle of the table and then have other types of food surrounding it. The symbols of Christ therefore are always front and center. But they also eat other types of bread with thier meal in general. This is probably the best example of the Lord’s Supper I have ever seen. It keeps the concepts that Jesus spoke of and I Cor. 11 intact. And just because there is other bread present, doesn’t mean that it is replacing the unleavened bread. Jesus never said, now make sure there isn’t other food present, because there was right there around him, other food. The bread was taken in the middle of the Passover and then after supper the wine. We have so sterilized and narrowed the concept that we don’t allow the reality of what was going on to interfer in our thinking.

  13. Price says:

    Jay.. Thanks for the link.. That was awesome !

  14. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:


    The passage you reference says,

    (Mark 14:12 ESV) And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?”

    Notice how the ESV capitalizes the phrase. It’s a reference to a feast day, not to the meal itself. Of course, no one disputes that the Passover meal was celebrated with unleavened bread. The question is whether the early church continued that practice or changed it in light of the new meaning given to the meal by Jesus. After all, the church changed the Passover to a weekly observance, dropped the bitter herbs, dropped the five cups down to one, and otherwise greatly modified the Passover for Christian purposes.

    In addition to all that, there’s a serious dispute as to whether the Last Supper was a Passover meal at all, although I think it clearly was.

    Main point is that the Lord’s Supper so substantially changed the Passover in so many ways that we shouldn’t assume that we must do something today because that’s the way the Jews did it. There is much that they did that we don’t do or we do differently. Luke records the passing of two cups, which we don’t do. The meal recorded in Acts 20 seems have been a full meal — a love feast — which we also don’t do but which seems to have been standard in the early church.

    Personally, I don’t think God cares in the least how much yeast we have in our communion bread. It’s about deeper things.

  15. Dwight says:

    I understand that Jay, but Jesus was the one who modified the Passover to the Lord’s Supper based on the elements present at the time. He could have done this when they were having a regular meal, of which they had many. Ironically the symbols for the Passover are still present in the Lord’s Supper, even though modified. Jesus was called the Passover and he was called the unspotted lamb and we partake of Him. I agree in part and yet I would try to incorporate the most symbolism as possible into the Lord’s Supper as was present during Jesus time and during the Passover. Ironically, there are concepts that we hold on to tooth and nail as the relevance, and then there are concept that we shun like the plague as not relevant. The Jews took a few things that God commanded and then added deeper layers of relevance in thier Passover that was not commanded. I agree we should look to deeper things and yet I am drawn to trying to emulate the relevant things, but not forgetting the very relevant thing of Christ Himself. But it almost seems sometimes as though we replace Christ with the things, instead of the other way around.

  16. Price says:

    Dwight… You have to admit that Bobby presented valid argument for what the earliest believers did according to reliable writings of early church leaders. It’s not as if Bobby just offered up an opinion. While I don’t believe that “examples” supersede a “command” or necessarily become one in absence of a command, they are somewhat valuable to understanding the customs of those that were nearest to the first century.

  17. Ellen says:

    Yes, Jay!

  18. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Dwight and Price,

    I agree with Price that the early church history is very interesting if not convincing. As Bobby notes, “artos” normally just means ordinary bread, not unleavened bread, and this is according to a branch of the early church whose first language was Greek.

    If the original practice was unleavened bread in the churches, how did both Eastern and Western churches develop the practice of leavened bread?

    In Exo, the symbolism of being unleavened is not purity but haste. The Israelites did not have time to leaven the bread because of the pursuing army. What NT truth is this a type or antitype of? (I have no idea.)

    Jesus is indeed referred to as the Passover lamb, but the Lord’s Supper doesn’t associate the lamb or mutton with Jesus’ body. Although Jesus is the Lamb, we omit the meat course altogether and replace it with bread. Why? I don’t know, but the symbolism is surely significant. Or is it as mundane as most early Christian homes couldn’t afford a meat course? Or that lamb is only in season in the spring? Again: no idea.

    And I’ve never felt entirely comfortable with Jesus’ statement that he would eat the Lord’s Supper with his disciples after his death and resurrection, given that there’s no recorded eating of communion by Jesus post-death. Is another recorded meal the fulfillment of this prophecy? Or was Jesus referring to eating with us at every Lord’s Supper because he’s present at all our assemblies?

    So I have lots of questions about the Lord’s Supper. Plenty of opinions, too. But the presence of so many unanswered questions warns me that there are likely symbols and meaning here that I’ve not even guessed at. Which is great, because it means there’s much more to learn.

    Hence, on the leavened/unleavened bread question, I reserve judgment. I will happily fellowship those on both sides. Of course, once I make up my mind, all who disagree with me will be damned, because they’d be wrong on a clearly answered question. 😉

  19. Dwight says:

    Price, I think Bobby was trying to prove a point and didn’t prove it well.
    He said, “In the LXX (the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible) the Greek argument carries the day. artos alone is never used of unleavened bread.”
    But the reality is that the different versions in the gospels that give an account of the Lord’s Supper all say, Mark 14:12 And on the first day of Unleavened Bread “azymos”, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?”,then in Mark 14:22 as they pass the bread the word “artos” used.
    In the English version of the Septuaigent the english is translated into unleavened bread Exodus 12:8 same as in Hebrew. When you look at the Greek Sept. in Ex.12:8 you will see “azymos or azuua” for unleavened bread and not “artos or aipw”. If you look at Deut.16:3 you will see “unleavened bread”(azymos) next to “bread of affliction” (artos), but the artos is referring back to the unleavened bread. In Gen.3:20 “bread” it is “artos”. It is bread in a generic sense.

  20. Dwight says:

    Jay, I guess we could ask why did the Lord’s Supper change in its entire form from food being casually passed around table to being served by certain people in a very rigid ceremony. I think and I think this is a very good assumption is that the unleavened bread was closely associated with the Jews and many of the early church fathers were very anti-Jew. This can be seen Bobby’s own study – “This anti-Jewish (indeed anti-Semitic) attitude is shown in the Eleventh Canon the Council of Trullo (A.D. 680) “Let none of those enrolled in priestly orders, or a layman, eat the matzos of the Jews, or be associated with them . . . if anyone should seek to do this let him be deposed, if a cleric, excommunicated, if a layman.”
    This was early, early and they were being told not to eat of the unleavened bread, so why shouldn’t it have changed to leavened bread. Many of the early church father’s hated the Jews and went out of there way to distance themselves. This is also true in regards to instrumental music which they largely associated with the Jews (and sometimes the sinful pagans.)

  21. Dwight says:

    But I want to make it clear that I am not in favor of trying to be dogmatic if unleavened bread is not available or if I get in a situation where I go to partake of the Lord’s Supper and the bread is leavened. I might point it out later, but I will still commune with the saints as that was the point.
    In reality it is much easier to make unleavned bread than leavened bread, even though leavened bread was and is the primary staple. I can make unleavened bread, but I have to find yeast or infected bread. I have a friend that makes sourdough pancakes and has to keep a small portion of the previous batch to use on the batch to be made and it has to sit and infect the whole for awhile.
    There is good reason that God made the Jews take the unleavened bread and good reason why the scriptures often talk of leavening as an influence, although usually not in a good sense.

  22. Dwight says:

    Third times the charm to try to post. Just to let you know I will fellowship with those who use leavend bread, even though I think they are wrong from a “per scripture” point of view. Wrong doesn’t always equal sin. What I hate are people that condemn others like in partaking of leavened bread, even when they are doing something such as taking of grape juice, when it was wine or not eating around a table. Now when they go to extremes in replacing the bread and the fruit of the vien with milk and cookies, then I draw the line as that is getting away from the symbolism that is employed in the unleavened bread and the fruit of the vine and the scriptures. I would always argue that to get closer to the scriptures in form is important, because it let’s us see and feel what the early saints did and that is a good thing. The Jews are way under appreciated in what they did with the Passover from being commanded with just three elements to making it a semi-casual meal with sentiments of deliverance everywhere in everything. They could have made it a highly structured ceremony, much like what our Lord’s Supper is today.

  23. Price says:

    Dwight, not sure how you could determine that Bobby’s intention was to prove a point… that didn’t come across in the paper to me.. It seemed that he looked at three different perspectives that are usually argued and put forth the information that we have available relative to how the early church conducted the sacrament and when and by whom the practice was altered… Absent a clear directive to use unleavened bread it would seem that what we are left with is personal opinion. The “Inference” that some heritages are so committed to seems to be far less dependable than command.. and we don’t have that. Then what we seem to have is reasonably reliable support for how those closest to the first century felt about it… Once again, I don’t think an example supersedes a command nor creates one in the absence of a command. But, unless you have historical documents which counter those presented by Bobby then regardless of what one might think of Bobby’s motivation, they paint a clear picture. For me personally, BREAD is what is most symbolic… We know they used bread. What we clearly see is that many of the prominent assemblies didn’t feel compelled to use unleavened.. So what does that mean ? To me, if falls within the category of the freedom to choose.. Perhaps it means more to you to use unleavened.. Perhaps to others is makes no difference at all.. Absent a clear command to use unleavened, then it seems to be a matter of conscience and not something that one could teach is a clear directive from scripture.. That doesn’t exist. Yet, we know that if one attempted to introduce regular bread into the communion many would throw a hissy fit. Which is exactly what the OP is bringing to our attention…

  24. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Dwight and Price,

    I imagine similar arguments were made around 1890 when Welch’s grape juice was introduced to provide an unfermented alternative to communion wine. Interestingly, the difference between wine and grape juice is yeast – just as the difference between leavened and unleavened bread is.

    Personally, I think the presence or absence of yeast is irrelevant — if not even a problem. The key to me is Luke’s use of “break bread” (artos) to refer both to communion and to a common meal. Luke uses this language to sacralize meals — such as when Paul breaks bread after a shipwreck to give thanks to God.

    In the US, no one would keep either Welch’s or unleavened bread on hand for a common meal, and so the Lord’s Supper doesn’t remind us a meal at all. The elements we take are foreign to our dining habits. But in the First Century, meals routinely had wine and bread — and so the Lord’s Supper had a tendency to make any meal potentially about the death and resurrection of Jesus. All meals were sacred to a Christian. Hence, a blessing was routinely said over the meal.

    The Lord’s Supper was part of a common meal — the love feast — and the basic, every day elements were given deep, Christian meaning. Thus, any common meal among Christians was a love feast and a celebration of Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection.

    As a result, the combination of the love feast with the Lord’s Supper was completely natural. They ate together; therefore, they took bread and wine together; therefore, they celebrated Jesus’ death and resurrection together.

    Now this is just a theory, because we have so few records from the apostolic age, but my theory is that the bread and wine need to be whatever is typical of a common, shared, community meal in that place and culture. It’s more about the community and the hospitality and the display of koinonia love than replicating the elements of Jesus’ final meal. In fact, while it’s not wrong, when we attempt to replicate the meal with elements foreign to our culture, we lose some of the intimacy and community-formation that was intended, replacing it with mere ritual.

    I may be dead wrong, but I just don’t see the Lord’s Supper being about getting the right ingredients by sorting through ancient historical documents. I don’t think God cares at all. It’s an interesting study, esp. to the extent it illuminates the thinking of the early church. But I think we do better to see the Lord’s Supper as being about community and spiritual formation of the church — which do not depend on the choice of bread or beverage except as the food and drink help make all common meals sacramental.

    PS — Dwight, I did not mean to imply that you would condemn anyone over this question. I can see how I came across that way and apologize.

  25. Price says:

    @ Jay… totally agree… WHAT it symbolizes is far more important than the symbols themselves…

  26. Richard constant says:

    well I didn’t see you guys talk about this one.
    The Old Covenant unleavened bread would be the dead bread.
    Course Jesus was born under the law until the resurrection.
    No now then you have the new life you have the new creation you have the lively bread leavened bread.
    Do we celebrate the resurrection and the fulfillment of the promise. Thus the lively bread.
    Or go back to the old and remember the blood and the death in the flesh.
    this is essentially the straw that broke the camel’s back between the Eastern and Western Church.
    the lively bread the Eastern Church the dead bread the Western Church Roma

  27. rich says:

    something like 1055 a.d.?

  28. Dwight says:

    Price, One of Bobby’s point is what he said, “In the LXX (the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible) the Greek argument carries the day. artos alone is never used of unleavened bread.”
    And this is not true. This is shown not only in Greek NT, but also reflected in the Greek version of the OT. Artos was generic of bread, but Azymos was specific-unleavened bread, which is why it is said, “And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, “And on the first day of Unleavened Bread (azymos), when they sacrificed the Passover lamb,” and then in vs.22 “they broke bread (artos).” Unleavened bread was used in the Passover meal, even today.
    So when they use the word artos by first century saints it was most likely Azymos being pointed to.
    And then one of the earliest of his quotes makes it clear that they were trying to get away from what the Jews did in using unleavened bread. Now if they were teaching against using unleavened bread in the sacrament and to not do it, then this implies that this was being done. I just want the arguments to be good arguments that is all. There are some big flaws in this study.

  29. Monty says:

    I’m always amazed at how God spelled everything out for the Jews under the Law of Moses(this is what you do, this is how you do it, this is when you do it. And yet, even still , we see they(the Jews and Jesus) embellished those instructions. We get to the N.T. and the “Christian dispensation’ and there is precious little instruction about the legalities and getting the form(s)right. So, what do we do in this obvious absence of such? We infer them, when we’ve been given so much freedom from the law code. It reminds me of the question about why Jesus’ disciples didn’t wash their hands. Surely, God is shaking his head and mystified about our creating law where we’ve been given freedom.

  30. Price says:

    @ Dwight… I”m no church historian nor am I an expert in Greek/Hebrew.. I suggest you bring it up with Bobby… But, no where is there a command to use unleavened bread.. That, in and of itself, makes it an option it seems to me.. But, what do I know.

  31. Dwight says:

    Price, I am simply pulling exceprts from Bobby’s own study here and arguing that they are faulty. I am not arguing for or against it as a whole.
    The fault is that he argues that “artos” couldn’t have been used generically to include unleavened bread (even though there are numerous instances in the Bible of this being done plainly in Mark 14) and thus when the early church fathers spoke of the bread and wine, they were talking about leavened bread. This is what is faulty. If artos could refer to unleavened bread in Mark 14, then it could as well other times when the church fathers just used the word bread. My point is that his argument is a dead end in this regards. The bible doesn’t just insinuate it was unleavened bread, but states the LS was done during the Feast of unleavened bread and/or Passover.
    Again I am not arguing that this will damn us, but that if we are looking for biblical guidance that is unmistakable, then we have it here in Mark. The Jews even still today use unleavened bread during the Passover and Feast of unleavened bread. This should direct us, but not divide us.

  32. Price says:

    @ Dwight… I’m not capable of defending Bobby’s work.. Perhaps he is which is why I suggested to bring it up with him… And, if we are looking for biblical instruction then I would think we would find a biblical instruction.. We don’t have that.. We have absolutely no idea what kind of bread they used or why they used it.. the fact that some chose to use it and others didn’t seems to me to suggest that there wasn’t a clear directive or one would have pointed out the language that required it.. but what do I know.

  33. Dwight says:

    Monty, I believe you are right and yet there are some rules and if not, then we can just argue that the Lord’s Supper is just really an option as well. The Passover had just a few instructions and yet they expanded upon the concepts and added things without changing the commands or more importantly…the intent. I would argue that unleavned bread is more significant than common bread and we should probably reach for more significance in the LS, but not to the point of dividing. Now I know some that argue that since it must be done on Sunday, to do it on any other day is sinful, and yet are we then to forget Christ except on Sunday? If we remember Christ on other days are we sinning? If we eat flat bread/drink wine on Monday and think about Jesus are we sinning? I guess if we were to be really strictive, then since the entire day was the Passover/ the Lord’s Day, then to eat leavened bread of any type on that day would be sinning, so no rolls with lunch, all day long and the drink, all day, must be grape juice (or wine). Oh bother.

  34. JES says:

    Good point Dwight. I’ve often suggested that our congregation celebrate the LS at our Thanksgiving gathering. Boy, you would think I had recommend kissing the Pope’s ring!!!

    Not only have we Never done this, but they have stopped have a congregational meal on Thanksgiving; one way to kill the Spirit!

  35. JES says:

    By the way, what day did the Lord institute the LS?

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