Jay’s Ebooks and Lectures — Links Fixed

HSRGSome kind readers have pointed out to me that the links at Jay’s eBooks and Lectures were broken. I’ve fixed them. At least, I think I have. Please let me know if you have any problems accessing those materials.

This page provides free copies of books I’ve written and copies of some PowerPoint presentations I’ve given.

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Reader-Requested Review: “Conviction vs. Mercy”

convictionvmercyAnother reader asked for my thoughts on Conviction vs. Mercy by Gardner Hall. (I bought the Kindle edition  for $0.99!)

Hall works with Hispanic congregations of the Churches of Christ in the New York City area and is, as is clear from his Facebook page, very active in foreign missions. He writes from within the non-institutional Churches of Christ.

The non-institutional Churches of Christ separated from the institutional or “mainstream” Churches of Christ in the mid-20th Century over “institutionalism,” that is, whether congregations may support non-congregational institutions (orphans homes, the Herald of Truth radio or TV broadcast, Christian colleges) from the congregational treasury. Continue reading

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Reader-Requested Review: “Muscle and a Shovel”

muscleshovelI may never do this again, understand? But I’ve read a couple of books at the request of readers who wanted my thoughts.

Both books are self-published from within the Churches of Christ. Today, we consider the first —

Muscle and a Shovel

This one is from within the “mainstream” or institutional/conservative Churches of Christ.

In fact, a number of readers have asked me to post something on Muscle and a Shovel by Michael Shank. Frankly, I’d not heard of it until I began receiving reader emails about it in the last few weeks. Continue reading

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The Affordable Care Act, Churches, and Ministers

churchmedical_icon-copyI’m sure that many readers have concerns about the application of the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) to their church and to themselves as a minister or other church employee. I’m going to try to provide some answers here, but obviously can’t cover  everything. It’s a HUGE piece of legislation and many answers are yet to come as regulations are issued.

Nonetheless, we can at least try to build a framework of understanding.

First, notice the legal disclaimer on this site.

Second, we need to narrow down our focus just a bit.  Continue reading

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Deacons: A New Definition

deaconsA few weeks ago, in a comment, Mike Cope referred me to Diakonia: Re-Interpreting the Ancient Sources by John N. Collins. In this book, Collins comprehensively surveys secular and Christian Greek literature to find the correct meaning of the terms diakonia and diakonos.

Collins has followed that 368-page book with a shorter sequel focusing on a handful of key passages, Deacons and the Church: Making Connections Between Old and New.

I took both of these with me on a trip to Chicago to read on the plane. I didn’t do so well. Collins is doubtlessly a brilliant scholar, but I find his writings very hard to follow. I mean, I’m a bond lawyer. I read 100-page, single-spaced legalese for a living. And I struggled to work my way through Collins’ prose. Continue reading

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“The Early Church and Today,” by Everett Ferguson, Part 11 (Eph 5:19, Part 3)

EarlychurchWe continue to consider Ferguson’s arguments in chapter 22 of his The Early Church and Today, vol. 1 and vol. 2, edited by Leonard Allen and Robyn Burwell. This chapter is titled “Church Music in Ephesians and Colossians.”

Psalm 108

At this point, it should be abundantly obvious that Paul is not concerned with the order of worship or use of the instrument in this passage. But there’s more evidence of the obvious.

Compare —

(Eph 5:19 ESV) addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,

— with —

Ps 108:1b-2a I will sing and make melody with all my being! 2 Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn!

In Eph 5:19, it certainly appears that Paul is paraphrasing “sing and make melody” from Psalm 108. Continue reading

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Electronic Book Deals

I just bought the Logos version (electronic, readable via Logos or any of its several sister programs) of The Expositor’s Bible Commentary for $129.99. The same books on Amazon
would cost $549.99 or more.

I’ve not had occasion to use this commentary before, but I recognize the authors, and it is a very impressive list.

I also just found the Kindle version of  N. T. Wright’s Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense for $2.99. At that price, if you don’t already own the book, there is no choice. You … must … buy … and … read … this … book! Continue reading

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“The Early Church and Today,” by Everett Ferguson, Part 10 (Eph 5:19, Part 2)

EarlychurchWe continue to consider Ferguson’s arguments in chapter 22 of his The Early Church and Today, vol. 1 and vol. 2, edited by Leonard Allen and Robyn Burwell. This chapter is titled “Church Music in Ephesians and Colossians.”

It astonishes me (it really does) how rarely the anti-instrumental music advocates bother to exegete Eph 5:18. I mean, the supposed “command” to sing found in Eph 5:19 is in fact a participle hanging off the clause “be filled with the Spirit.”

That is, you have no idea what the point of “singing” is until you’ve figured out the meaning of “be filled with the Spirit” because “singing” is subordinate to “be filled.”

Of course, the utter failure of the conservative Churches to exegete Eph 5:18 is partly explained by the “word only” advocates who shudder at any thought of a present, active, moving God. And so doctrine gets built and millions of believers are damned on the exegesis of a participle treated as an independent command, with no regard at all for why that participle is attached to the verb “be filled.” Continue reading

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“The Early Church and Today,” by Everett Ferguson, Part 9 (Eph 5:19, Part 1)

EarlychurchWe continue to consider Ferguson’s arguments in chapter 22 of his The Early Church and Today, vol. 1 and vol. 2, edited by Leonard Allen and Robyn Burwell. This chapter is titled “Church Music in Ephesians and Colossians.”

“Be filled with the Spirit” in the scriptures

Eph 5:18 urges readers to “be filled with the Spirit.” What on earth does this mean? The phrase appears several other places in the scriptures.

(Exo 31:2-3 ESV) 2 “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 3 and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship,

(Exo 35:30-31 ESV) 30 Then Moses said to the people of Israel, “See, the LORD has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; 31 and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, Continue reading

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“The Early Church and Today,” by Everett Ferguson, Part 8 (Col 3:15-17, Part 2)

EarlychurchWe continue to consider Ferguson’s arguments in chapter 22 of his The Early Church and Today, vol. 1 and vol. 2, edited by Leonard Allen and Robyn Burwell. This chapter is titled “Church Music in Ephesians and Colossians.”

Let’s take another look at Col 3:16 to see what Paul’s point really is.

Paul had never been to the church at Colossae, but it came to his attention that the congregation was caught up in a distressing heresy. The exact nature of the heresy is unknown to us, but it clearly involved the worship of angels and a kind of asceticism.

Paul combats this error by writing an epistle focused on the all-sufficiency of Jesus. As a result, Colossians has a high Christology, that is, it focuses powerfully on the supremacy of Jesus and the sufficiency of the gospel. Continue reading

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