We are considering Michael Shank’s book Muscle and a Shovel.
You’ll begin to notice several typos here and there in the text quoted from the book. I cut and pasted these electronically. They are all in the original. I’ll not distract you with the occasional “sic” or bracketed correction. It’s a self-published book and so not professionally proofread. And the typos have nothing to do with the merits of the arguments Shank makes.
Chapter 4 begins with Shank’s description of his pre-conversion life as a nominal Christian. He implies that this is typical of everyone he knew in the Baptist Church. In fact, he had concluded that being saved and how he lived were entirely disconnected.
After all, I had been saved and once I was saved I would always be saved, so it didn’t really matter what I did.
(Kindle Locations 764-765). This is, of course, not at all typical Baptist teaching, but many people in many denominations (Churches of Christ included) have come to the same false conclusion. Continue reading
We are considering Michael Shank’s book Muscle and a Shovel. As I’ve said before, Shank has an obvious talent for story telling, and it’s a nicely told tale.
The story begins with the author as a nominal Christian. He grew up in a Baptist Church, and although he’d said the “sinner’s prayer,” he’d never truly committed himself to Jesus. Nonetheless, he considered himself saved.
As the story proceeds, he ultimately converts and joins a Church of Christ and finds a new dedication and level of commitment. And each chapter describes his discussions with others about Christianity and the superiority of the (conservative or mainline) Church of Christ point of view over the views of “the denominations.” Continue reading
We are considering Michael Shank’s book Muscle and a Shovel. I begin republishing a post from February 2, 2008 –
(1 Pet 5:5b-6) All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
I’m convinced that part of the psychology that drives many of us within the Churches of Christ toward legalism is the pleasure of feeling smarter than the church down the road. I don’t mean to imply any insincerity — far from it. Nor do I think this feeling of superiority is conscious. No, it’s deeply buried in our psyches, and this is one reason it’s so very hard to root out. Continue reading
For reasons that are kind of hard to explain, I think it’s important that I return to the book Muscle and a Shovel by Michael Shank and take up the arguments made there in some detail.
I realize that many longtime readers are looking to get away from the old Church of Christ disputes and to instead dig into what comes next, that is, to find a better theology and better hermeneutic.
And we’ve done plenty of that because, frankly, I’m there, too. I mean, I’ve covered some (not all) of this ground so many times that I really don’t want to go there again. I’d rather learn and discuss good theology than why bad theology is bad. Continue reading
We’re getting close to the end. Really.
Part of N.T. Wright’s contribution to contemporary theology is his understanding of the place of Israel in the great, grand narrative of scripture.
For most of us, Israel is like a mistake God made and wishes never happened. Jesus came to erase Israel, we seem to think. Therefore, we can save ourselves a lot of time and trouble and skip Old Testament studies, because it was all a big mistake.
Or we might see Israel as simply a place to find great children’s stories — a spiritual version of Aesop’s fables. Therefore, we study Abraham in middle school but never among the adults. Continue reading
Back to Romans
Early in Romans, Paul plainly alludes to the several Old Testament passages we covered in the last post.
(Rom 2:28-29 ESV) 28 For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.
Jeremiah explains that God will make a new covenant with this people.
(Jer 31:31-34 ESV) 31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD.33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
This new covenant includes as an essential element God writing his law on the hearts of his people — fulfilling the promise of Deut 30:6. Continue reading
Deuteronomy and the Spirit
Imagine the scene. Nearly all the Israelites who’d left Egypt with Moses had died in the desert. The next generation — desert-hardened, accustomed to traveling as led by God’s special presence in the camp — prepared to cross the Jordan and conquer the Promised Land.
God called the people together to remind them of the covenant he’d made with their parents — a covenant we call “Deuteronomy” or “Second Law,” because this was the second giving of the Law of Moses.
After recounting God’s mighty works on behalf of his beloved Israel, he declares – Continue reading
My article “Social Media for Normal Churches” was posted at Wineskins earlier today. Please click over and check it out.”
While we’re on the subject of Wineskins, Matt Dabbs has invested countless hours in making the archived articles available — and he has finally finished. There’s some remarkable writing on many topics stored there. (Yes, the issue I edited on instrumental music is finally back up. It’s issue 82, from 2010. The several articles by Edward Fudge, while well worth reading, are not part of the instrumental music discussion.)
In addition, Brad Palmore, our webmaster, has installed a page for those looking for ministry jobs to post their availability. The listing has just started, and so it’s a rare opportunity to be near the top of the list.