N. T. Wright’s “Surprised by Scripture”

surprised_by_scripture_200wN. T. Wright continues to produce an astonishing volume of excellent writing, targeted at Christian audiences at all levels of scholarship.

Most recently, Wright has released Surprised by Scripture: Engaging Contemporary Issues, a collection of essays on various issues pertinent to life in the church.

These essays are written at a college level. They aren’t quite as easy to read as his New Testament For Everyone commentaries (a better, sounder set of commentaries serving much the same role as William Barclay’s venerable New Daily Study Bible). But they are far easier reads than, say, his Christian Origins and the Question of God series.

The essays were written for other purposes, and then later assembled into this collection. As a result, there’s a certain inevitable level of repetition, but not too much. And some of the arguments that he makes are made in other earlier works of his, so that a devoted reader such as myself will find himself covering very familiar grounds at times. Nonetheless, there much here that is new and needed. Continue reading

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1 Corinthians 6:15-20 (“You were bought with a price”)

1corinthians

(1 Cor 6:15 ESV) 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never!

Why is prostitution wrong? Paul doesn’t say because it violates a command of God (although it does). Paul reasons from the gospel. It’s wrong because Christians have been baptized into Christ. We are his body on earth! And for a Christian to have sex with a prostitute is to join Christ himself to the prostitute!

(1 Cor 6:16 ESV) Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.”

Paul then refers back to Genesis 2 — regarding Adam and Eve — in which Moses comments on marriage. Paul points out that the sexual union is more than sex. It’s a union of two people who become in a sense one. Continue reading

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Instrumental Music: Further on Eph 5:19

glory in Solomon's templeI recently enjoyed a lunch conversation with a bright, inquisitive young member of my congregation. We discussed instrumental music. As we were talking, several themes of the Scriptures came together.

We start in 1 Kings, at the dedication of the Temple by Solomon. When the ark of the covenant was brought into the Holy of Holies, a wondrous thing happened –

(1 Kings 8:10–11 ESV) 10 And when the priests came out of the Holy Place, a cloud filled the house of the LORD, 11 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD.

Yahweh himself, represented by an intensely bright cloud called God’s “glory,” filled the Temple — and so filled the space that the priests couldn’t perform their duties — being the very duties that God required of them. Continue reading

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The Fork in the Road: An Email from a Church of Christ Preacher, Part 2

forkintheroadI get emails –

______________________

Jay,

I was speaking to a preacher friend of mine today about this topic (salvation issues vs. opinionated issues), and he is very conservative/traditional. He speaks for a pretty large congregation (several hundred), and I know he had struggled with the same thing as far as proper discernment on these issues is concerned.
Continue reading

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Jon Guerra: “Enough for Me”

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1 Corinthans 6:12-14 (“Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats”), Part 2

1corinthiansIn the last post, we considered the Corinthian argument that sexual urges are natural and therefore may be morally satisfied with someone other than a spouse. In fact, the discussion will soon turn to prostitution — a common and very acceptable practice in First Century Corinthian culture.

(1Co 6:12 ESV) “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. 13 “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”– and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power.

Paul made three counter-arguments –

* Not all things are helpful

* I will not be brought under the power of any

* The body is for the Lord and the Lord for the body.

We considered the first two in the last post. Continue reading

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The Fork in the Road: An Email from a Church of Christ Preacher, Part 1

forkintheroadI get emails –

_________________________

Jay,

The reason I am writing to you is because I have been doing much questioning over the past few years regarding “doctrinal” issues in the churches of Christ. I was raised in what is commonly known as the “mainstream” churches of Christ.

I have zealously and aggressively fought against any type of progressive movement. I would “mark” anyone who didn’t agree with my exact belief system as a heretic. Furthermore, if someone didn’t agree with me on everything, then certainly they didn’t love Jesus like I did!   Continue reading

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Apologetics: July 27, 2014 class (Reconciling the Big Bang with Genesis 1)

lapelmicHere are links to today’s class.

The materials may be found at –

Apologetics: The Bible and Science, Part 7 (Quark Confinement and Six Days)

Apologetics: The Bible and Science, Part 8 (the Finely Tuned Universe)

Apologetics: The Bible and Science, Part 9 (the Strong Anthropic Principle and Multiverses)

Apologetics: The Bible and Science, Part 16 (Echoes of the Big Bang)

And here is the audio for the class, to download or stream

July 27, 2014 class in .m4a format (22 MB)

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1 Corinthans 6:12-14 (“Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats”), Part 1

1corinthians[I've modified this since first posted to include v.14 and to delete "God shall destroy" as coming from Paul. I'll explain the deletion in the next post of this series.]

(1Co 6:12 ESV) “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything. 13 “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”– and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power.

In the King James, this is a very confusing passage –

(1Co 6:12 KJV) All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. 13 Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body. 14 And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power.

The KJV omits the quotation marks found in most modern translations. The original Greek had no punctuation at all, and so this is not surprising — but it’s made for some really strange Sunday school class lessons over the years! Continue reading

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1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (“the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God”)

1corinthians

(1 Cor 6:9–11 ESV) 9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

After addressing lawsuits between believers, Paul dramatically changes the subject to moral sin, declaring that certain sins will keep the sinner from inheriting the kingdom of God. Some of these are obvious, whereas others are a tad more controversial, such as “men who practice homosexuality.” Continue reading

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