Should I Change Congregations? I Get Emails

change-churchI get emails. Sometimes nearly the same email from two different people the same day. Both have been edited to preserve anonymity —

Email 1

I am unsure if this goes straight to Jay Guin, or if it is read by other people — but hello!

[JFG: Straight to me and no one else.]

I am of the same restoration heritage as you. I am newly married and after much deliberation and prayer, my wife and I decided that the congregation I was attending was not the community I wanted to raise my family in. Long story short, we are attending a non-denominational church plant that we’ve found to be a wonderfully healthy church community, filled with loving people who love to study the word and live life along side each other… But it isn’t a church of Christ affiliated church.

My parents and grandparents on both sides of my family have been brought up in the conservative segment of the churches of Christ, and I just had my first conversation with on pair of grandparents about our decision.  Continue reading

Posted in Churches of Christ, Uncategorized | 15 Comments

N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 3 (Sin enters the world; Works salvation? )

dayrevolutionbegan

N. T. “Tom” Wright has just released another paradigm-shifting book suggesting a new, more scriptural way of understanding the atonement, The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion. Wright delves deeply into how the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus accomplishes our salvation.

Rom 1:26-32

(Rom. 1:26-32 NET)  26 For this reason God gave them over to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged the natural sexual relations for unnatural ones,  27 and likewise the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed in their passions for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.  28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what should not be done.  29 They are filled with every kind of unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, malice. They are rife with envy, murder, strife, deceit, hostility. They are gossips,  30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, contrivers of all sorts of evil, disobedient to parents,  31 senseless, covenant-breakers, heartless, ruthless.  32 Although they fully know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but also approve of those who practice them.

Remember from the last post that Paul first points out that after Adam, mankind (pre-Abraham), with some unmentioned but understood exceptions, quickly forgot about God, and so they chose to worship created things rather than the Creator. Mankind fell into widespread, nearly universal idolatry. Continue reading

Posted in N. T. Wright's The Day the Revolution Began, N. T. Wright's The Day the Revolution Began, Romans, Uncategorized | 26 Comments

N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 2 (Worshiping According to the Truth)

dayrevolutionbegan

N. T. “Tom” Wright has just released another paradigm-shifting book suggesting a new, more scriptural way of understanding the atonement, The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion. Wright delves deeply into how the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus accomplishes our salvation.

Rom 1:18-25

(Rom. 1:18 ESV)  For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.

Wright points out that the relationship between God and man is broken, at its most basic level, by “ungodliness” rather than sin. Paul will get to sin, but he deals with ungodliness first.

It is a failure not primarily of behavior (though that follows), but of worship. Worship the wrong divinity, and instead of reflecting God’s wise order into the world you will reflect and then produce a distortion: something out of joint, something “unjust.” That is the problem, says Paul: “ungodliness” produces “out-of-jointness,” “injustice.” [JFG: translated “unrighteousness” by most] Since this out-of-jointness clashes with the way things actually are, humans then suppress the truth as well, including ultimately the truth about God himself, and so the vicious circle continues; people continue to worship that which is not divine and swap the truth for a lie (1: 18– 26).

Wright, N. T.. The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion (Kindle Locations 4315-4320). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition. Continue reading

Posted in N. T. Wright's The Day the Revolution Began, N. T. Wright's The Day the Revolution Began, Romans, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Thom Rainer: Eleven Vital Steps to Minimize Risk of Child Sex Abuse in Your Church

eleven-vital-steps-to-minimize-risk-of-child-sex-abuse-in-your-churchAs I’ve said many times, I’m a fan of the leadership advice provided by Thom Rainer at his Growing Healthy Churches Together blog. He recently posted Eleven Vital Steps to Minimize Risk of Child Sex Abuse in Your Church:

  1. Require membership in the church for an established length of time for anyone who applies to work or volunteer in your children’s ministry. Hammar recommends six months.
  2. Require a written application from both employees and volunteers who work with and around children. Keep digital copies of the applications.
  3. Conduct personal interviews with each person who applies. Keep digital copies of notes from the interviews.
  4. Perform reference checks. Again, keep your digital notes of the conversations.
  5. Run criminal background checks of each applicant. Here is one source to get this information.
  6. Run each candidate’s name through the national sex offender registry. The site is nsopw.gov.
  7. Be diligent about the two-adult rule. A minor should never be left alone with one adult anytime or any place.
  8. Keep all records permanently. In many states discovery is allowed decades after the alleged event occurred.
  9. Have a clear response plan. All leaders and those working with or near children should know how to respond quickly to protect the victim and to comply with all laws.
  10. Have ongoing training for volunteers and staff. Redundancy could save a child. It also demonstrates the church’s diligence in this serious matter.
  11. Make certain your church’s groups operate under all the guidelines of the church as a whole. Church small groups are increasingly becoming more common venues for allegations of child sex abuse.

I would add: Do not procrastinate and If you have a social worker among your members or friends, involve him or her in the process. Every state is different, and it’s the social workers who know the system best.

Posted in N. T. Wright's The Day the Revolution Began, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 1 (the righteousness of God)

dayrevolutionbegan

N. T. “Tom” Wright has just released another paradigm-shifting book suggesting a new, more scriptural way of understanding the atonement, The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion. Wright delves deeply into how the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus accomplishes our salvation.

A major part of Wright’s book is a fresh look at several passages in Romans, primarily in chapters 1 – 8. The book assumes the reader has a copy of Romans handy or else is very familiar with the text. I thought it might be helpful to consider Wright’s arguments with the text in the post — so readers have an easier time of following the arguments.

You may notice as we go that I’ve not covered all of Wright’s arguments. That’s on purpose. You need to buy the book to get the rest.

Wright works from the New Revised Standard Version, but I’m going to use the NET Bible translation, which makes several revisions that lean Wright’s way because the scholarly consensus has shifted in his direction on several important phrases and words. It’s far superior to the NIV (and related translations), as well as the KJV and NKJV for a technical reading of Romans. The NIV is particularly weak in Romans and Galatians for scholarly study.

The NET Bible is available for free at several sites and is included in most Bible software because of its liberal licensing policy. The home site offers links to translator notes, that are often very helpful and more free from bias than many commentaries. I find them invaluable. (I really wish the NIV and other popular translations would print translator notes. I mean, so often I think, “What on earth were you thinking …?”) Continue reading

Posted in N. T. Wright's The Day the Revolution Began, N. T. Wright's The Day the Revolution Began, Romans, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Part 16 (Covenantal Substitutionary Atonement, Part 2)

dayrevolutionbegan

N. T. “Tom” Wright has just released another paradigm-shifting book suggesting a new, more scriptural way of understanding the atonement, The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion. Wright delves deeply into how the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus accomplishes our salvation.

Abraham’s Covenant of Blood with God [JFG, based on a lesson taught by Ray Vander Laan]

For thousands of years, men have sealed covenants in blood. In the Middle East, they used to say that they “cut a covenant,” meaning the covenanting parties cut their arms and sucked a bit of one another’s blood. The mingling of blood was considered to bring the parties together so tightly they’d have to honor their words. Continue reading

Posted in N. T. Wright's The Day the Revolution Began, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Which Gospel? From Bill Hull

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Larger file for use in PowerPoint.

Previous version of graphic.

(Thanks to reader JohnF for the upgrade on the graphic.)

Thanks to Scot McKnight, I came across this chart by Bill Hull. The problem is that if your eyes are as old as mine, you can’t read the white against light green boxes at the bottom. My artistic skill set is pretty limited. I learned how to draw an owl in the second grade, and that’s about it. So I tried my hand at editing the image to improve the contrast, and got nowhere. If a reader would like to try his hand at improving this image, that would be great.

But by blowing the picture up bigger than the blog screen will hold, I find the following: Continue reading

Posted in Gospel, What Is the?, Uncategorized | 6 Comments