Jesus and Paul on the Hermeneutics of Sexuality: Richard Beck, Part 5 (A Mock Debate)

the-bible-and-sexuality-blog-heading (1)Richard describes a mock debate put on during chapel at ACU. The idea is that you have two rostrums and two microphones, and the speaker is asked to argue both sides of a controversial issue — one side from one microphone and the other from the other mic. Excellent!

This sounds like law school training. I mean, you can’t fairly take on someone else’s argument if you don’t understand it well enough to argue the other side’s case. (And this is why I read Behold the Pattern multiple times before writing my books and posting here. I believe it essential to understand your opponent’s position as well as — if not better than — he.)

So Beck made two arguments, one on each side of the homosexual marriage issue. Here they are. Continue reading

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Jesus and Paul on the Hermeneutics of Sexuality: Richard Beck, Part 4 (Rowan Williams, again)

the-bible-and-sexuality-blog-heading (1)We’re taking up Richard Beck’s blog post Sexuality and the Christian Body, Part 2: Grace and Election.

A second major theme in Eugene Rogers’ book Sexuality and the Christian Body is his interaction with and elaboration upon Rowan Williams’ essay The Body’s Grace. If you’ve not read The Body’s Grace many consider it to be the most significant theological treatment of human sexuality in the 20th Century. You can decide that for yourself. Regardless, agree or not, The Body’s Grace is considered required reading for theology students taking up the subject of human sexuality.

We, of course, considered Williams’ essay earlier, and I’ll not repeat my criticisms of it here. Rather, I mourn the fact that this is considered “theology” at all, much less required reading for students of the Bible. Continue reading

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The Future of the Churches of Christ: More Stats

totalmembershipAccording to a recent Christianity Today article, the Southern Baptists report yet another year of numerical decline. And the rate of decline is accelerating. Continue reading

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Jesus and Paul on the Hermeneutics of Sexuality: Richard Beck, Part 3 (Rogers on Galatians)

the-bible-and-sexuality-blog-heading (1)

Beck continues to summarize Rogers’ argument —

But what Rogers argues is that what we are seeing in Gal. 3.28 is a fusion of natural kinds. More, we are seeing a fusion of the morally inferior with the morally superior. In the 1st Century slaves, women and Gentiles were all considered to be morally inferior to the highest natural kind: The male Jew. For example, each group was characterized by the sexual perversions we’ve seen Paul describe in Romans 1.

Really? It’s certainly true that male Jews looked down on women and Gentiles. But is it really true that female Jews were viewed as guilty of homosexual deviancy by virtue of their moral inferiority? I’ve not found that anywhere — not in the Talmud, not the OT, not any source on Second Temple Judaism. I don’t believe it. Continue reading

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Jesus and Paul on the Hermeneutics of Sexuality: Richard Beck, Part 2 (Rogers on Romans)

the-bible-and-sexuality-blog-heading (1)In Sexuality and the Christian Body, Part 1, Richard Beck summarizes a view of Christian marriage from Eugene Rogers’ book Sexuality and the Christian Body.

Rom 1 and 11

In particular, Beck reminds us that we are Gentiles grafted by grace into the Jewish stock (Rom 11).

First, this recovery highlights the fact that we are not “by nature” children of God. We’ve been chosen and adopted. In the language of Paul we’ve been “grafted into” the tree of Israel. Second, this action of God, grafting in the Gentiles, highlights how the grace and election of God determines the people of God. We are not God’s children because of nature. We are God’s children because of election. This places election at the center of Christian notions of marriage (and celibacy) rather than a Darwinian focus on procreation. Marriage is grace, not biology. Finally, a recovery of our identity as Gentiles helps us understand why God’s actions toward the Gentiles was such a shock and offense to the Jews (both Christian and non-Christian). Importantly, this shock was very much focused on issues of holiness and morality.

The Jews in fact were shocked that Gentiles could be saved — elect, a part of Israel — without becoming Jews through circumcision, etc. The admission of Gentiles, by faith, is referred to by Paul as “contrary to nature” — Continue reading

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Jesus and Paul on the Hermeneutics of Sexuality: Richard Beck, Part 1

the-bible-and-sexuality-blog-heading (1)Richard Beck is a professor of psychology at Abilene Christian University. He blogs at Experimental Theology.

I find him intelligent and challenging. I subscribe to his blog via RSS so I don’t miss a single post. Of course, we don’t always agree, but he pushes me to see things I might otherwise not have seen on my own. And that’s all good.

He has posted three times to offer arguments (that he does not necessarily personally endorse) in favor of Christian gay marriage:

Sexuality and the Christian Body, Part 1
Sexuality and the Christian Body, Part 2
Same Sex Marriage in the Image of God?

You should read all three articles in full. Don’t rely on just the parts I quote.

A couple of weeks ago, I invited Richard to participate in this discussion, either through comments or by posting on the blog as I do. Fair is fair. Unfortunately, he is on vacation in Europe and will not be back until August. Moreover, these articles summarize the views of other thinkers. I can hardly ask that Richard defend these positions unless they reflect his own thinking.
Continue reading

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Jesus and Paul on the Hermeneutics of Sexuality: Rowan Williams

the-bible-and-sexuality-blog-heading (1)We’re continuing to consider a series of articles making arguments in favor of Christian gay marriage. The next Christian thinker we take up is Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury: Rowan Williams’ four essentials for being ‘Christian’ and “The Body’s Grace”.

In the first article, Williams says,

Archbishops don’t decide doctrine, and in a church where the majority holds a more traditional view, an archbishop has to respect that. I still see a strong case for a less restrictive approach, on the grounds that what the Bible condemns isn’t necessarily what we today recognize as same-sex partnership. 

This is hardly new theological ground. The argument made is that the homosexual relationships Paul would have known were abusive — pederastic, prostitution, or idolatrous — and so Paul was condemning homosexuality of the type he knew. As a First Century man, he would have been unfamiliar with loving, faithful homosexual relationships comparable to healthy heterosexual marriages. Continue reading

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Jesus and Paul on the Hermeneutics of Sexuality: Introduction; Brueggemann

the-bible-and-sexuality-blog-heading (1)A couple of years ago, I posted a series called “Jesus and Paul on the Hermeneutics of Sexuality.” The point of the series is that we should find our hermeneutics in the scriptures, rather than importing our hermeneutics from law, humanism, or whatever. And the best source of scriptural hermeneutics is to study how Jesus and Paul interpreted and applied the Old Testament.

Here are links to the posts: Continue reading

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How to Study the Bible: Theosis, Plain and Simple, Part 3

theword biblepage-781x10242 Cor 5:17

(2Co 5:17 NET)  17 So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away – look, what is new has come! 

For many, this is considered the central text on theosis. It’s subtle but important. And so we need to start with some Greek.

“New” is kainos, the same word for “new” as is found in —

(Rev 21:1 ESV) Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 

(Rev 21:2 ESV) 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

(Rev 21:5 ESV) And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

“New creation” means a creation that’s been renewed or restored, the same idea we find regarding the New Heaven and New Earth in the Rev. The Eschaton — the end of all things — has already happened in each individual Christian from the moment of his or her baptism. God does a miracle in us comparable to the miracle of the Creation itself! It’s not just washing away sins — although it is that! — it is also remaking us so that we are suited for what is to come. Continue reading

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How to Study the Bible: Theosis, Plain and Simple, Part 2

theword biblepage-781x1024Gal 2:20

(Gal 2:20 NET)  20 I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 

As we covered earlier, God is faithful to his covenant promises (Rom 3:3) and so Jesus has also been faithful, especially on the cross. We respond by being faithful — which can be just as well be translated “having faith.” In having faith, we take a critical step toward becoming like God.

God responds by coming to live within us through his Spirit (Rom 8; Gal 3:3-4), making our one-ness and in-ness that much more so.

Therefore, Paul can say that “I have been crucified with Christ.” We want to argue about when this happens and how it relates to baptism, but the point is more about what our faith, baptism, and receipt of the Spirit do to change who we are. It’s not niggling over God’s timing but submitting to the transformation from self to Christ living in me. Continue reading

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