The Law of Moses has a pretty bad reputation among Christians, mainly due to a misunderstanding of Paul on a few points, I think. And so today’s the day that we rehabilitate the Torah.
First, “Torah” doesn’t so much mean “law” as “instruction” or “teaching.”
(Pro 31:26 ESV) [The excellent wife] opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching [torah] of kindness is on her tongue.
After all, the Jews refer to the first five books of the Bible as the Torah, and there’s a lot more in those books than the statutes of Moses — the so-called 613 commands.
The stories of Adam and Eve, Abraham, Joseph, and Moses are all “Torah.” Continue reading
I’m an elder, but I was a deacon before that, and for quite a long time — although I really can’t remember when I became a deacon. It was that long ago.
I don’t disrespect deacons as such. I mean, I was a deacon for many years, and most of the deacons I know are very good men, doing very good work for Jesus.
But the system is broken. It’s never really worked that well.
The Church of Christ deacon tradition was invented when we had churches of 50 members, when nearly all members were married and nearly all married members had children (birth control came later, people married much younger). And the theology, such as it is, was largely invented in an effort to show ourselves saved and Baptists damned based on who had the “scriptural” pattern for church organization. Continue reading
For reasons I cannot explain, WordPress posted an article I was in the middle of typing – dealing with academia and publishing. It was not finished. It was not 2% finished.
Don’t bother reading. If I get it finished and if I’m happy with the result, then it will show up in a week or two.
Sorry about that.
Continuing to consider our traditions with regard to deacons –
7. “Deacon” is an honorific title.
By “honorific,” I mean a title that causes one to write home to mom.
Or let me put it this way. Imagine an elders meeting where the topic is whether to have deacons at all. One elder suggests having no deacons, just “ministry leaders,” so that the leadership can have ministries led by gifted women and single men — or men who’ve not fathered children.
Another elder speaks up. “But we have several young men here who are wondering why they’ve never made deacon. Their parents are concerned that they’ve fathered children, are raising them well, and volunteer in the lawn care ministry and yet haven’t been made deacon yet. It’s an expectation. It’s part of our heritage, and I don’t know how to explain to these young men that they won’t ever get to wear that title.” Continue reading
Continuing to consider our traditional understanding of the role of deacons …
Tradition 6. The deacons should meet as a body.
Well, if the deacons as a group oversee a specific ministry of the church, as in Acts 6, of course they should meet as a body.
But if the deacons have involvement in several different ministries, no, there is no need for them to become a governing board. Again, we keep trying to convert “important” to “management,” whereas in scriptural thought, “important” is much more about service. Continue reading
We need to dig a little deeper into the text regarding the work of a deacon.
Obviously, the work of the seven men in Jerusalem was very important. But it’s a peculiarly Western bias to imagine that important = management. I think the apostles would have laughed at the thought and said that important = serving those in need.
You see, the point of the text isn’t: This is how you must organize or else go to hell. Rather, it’s more like: This is how important caring for widows is — important enough that the Spirit will surely call members into that kind of service — and the leadership should recognize what the Spirit is doing among them and allow the Spirit-equipped to do the work they’re equipped to do. Continue reading
I’m continuing to explain why I disagree with the traditional views regarding deacons.
Traditional view 2: Scripturally organized churches have deacons, but only if they also have elders.
It’s argued that if there are no elders, then the deacons become de facto elders and thus the deacons (“diaconate” is the word for the deacons as a group) should be disbanded.
I disagree. You see, the problem of deacons becoming de facto elders only arises if the deacons are accustomed to meeting and acting as a board. There is simply no justification for the deacons to act as a board — as though they were junior elders. Continue reading
[I'll be returning both to "The Story" and "Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes." But this has been on mind lately.]
It’s long been taught in Churches of Christ that –
1. A church is not a true church unless it’s “scripturally organized.”
2. Scripturally organized churches have deacons, but only if they also have elders. If there are no elders, then the deacons become de facto elders and thus the deacons (“diaconate” is the word for the deacons as a group) should be disbanded. Continue reading
What does the Passover mean for us today? Well, we start with what it meant for the Israelites. And for them, it was a remembrance of God’s protection and redemption — when God freed them from the shame of slavery and made them into a free nation.
Several major events in Israelite history are marked by the celebration of the Passover. Here’s a story we don’t tell in fourth grade Bible class. You see, it begins with the fact that the Israelites born in the desert, during the 40 years of wandering, had not been circumcised.
Therefore Joshua had them all circumcised (surely an unpleasant process in an age without antibiotics or anesthesia — and very difficult to explain to fourth graders!) — and then they celebrated the Passover.