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New Testament Eschatology -- Old Testament Background Continued

Some Prophets
'Prophecy is of the nature of poetry, and depicts events, not in the prosaic style of the historian, but in the glowing imagery of the poet.' -- J. Stuart Russell, The Parousia, pg. 81.
Last time we took a brief look at poetic language and how it's used. We saw how celestial images can be used for terrestrial authorities. With that in mind, we now turn our attention to some prophetic passages.
Isaiah 13.9-13. For see, the day of the Lord is coming—the terrible day of his fury and fierce anger. The land will be made desolate, and all the sinners destroyed with it. The heavens will be black above them; the stars will give no light. The sun will be dark when it rises, and the moon will provide no light.

“I, the Lord, will punish the world for its evil and the wicked for their sin. I will crush the arrogance of the proud and humble the pride of the mighty. I will make people scarcer than gold—more rare than the fine gold of Ophir. For I will shake the heaven…

Q?

For those of us that aren't aware, some scholars believe that Matthew and Luke copied a lot of their material from the gospel of Mark (supposedly the oldest Gospel).  But there is a lot in Matthew and Luke that doesn't appear in Mark.  So, some scholars came up with a hypothetical document titled 'quelle' (a German word meaning 'source').  'Q', for short.  Now, it should be noted that no one has ever seen this document and church history doesn't seem to know about it.  But, most...ahem...'liberal' scholarship holds to it like it is the source document for (at least) the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke).

However, my view is more like this (And mind you, this is just my view.  I haven't heard this from anyone else.).  To me, Mark reads more like an underground subversive tract.  Almost like a secret code -- the kind you swallow or burn up after you've read it.  What I see as a more likely possibility is that  Mark copied from …

New Testament Eschatology -- Old Testament Background

Often times, the reason people insist that the New Testaments writers were wrong about the 'end of the world' -- i.e., the writers believed it was going to take place very soon for them -- is because of an almost 'wooden' literalism that is used when reading those passages. I find this a little amusing because a lot of times, those same people don't hold to a 'literal' interpretation of the Bible. Yet, they either assume that the writers of the New Testament held to a 'literal' interpretation or we should understand those New Testament passages in a literal way. I hope to show a little different path. But to help us in our journey, before we can look at the New Testament passages themselves, we need to look at some Old Testament passages.

Why?

The reason for this is because the New Testament is a continuation of the Old Testament story. In other words, the Old Testament is the foundation or frame-work from which the New Testament writers were wo…

New Testament Eschatology - Introduction

From time to time, I hear a lot about the early church’s understanding of the ‘end of the world’ or their belief of the ‘Second Coming of Jesus’ as taking place within their generation. And it's usually not in a very good light. ‘They were obviously mistaken’ is often the remark I hear most. But what if it is we who are mistaken? I know, inconceivable, right. I don’t think so. I am hoping to do a series here on the 'end of the world' statements of the New Testament (or at least the major ones) and show that they were not mistaken in their understanding of the ‘signs of the times’.

Before we begin, however, let’s look at some terms that will have to be used. As most of you know, I try to refrain from using big ‘church’ words but from time to time they are necessary. And this is one of those times. (The reason I don’t use big church words is that they are like suitcases where ideas and thoughts and understandings are packed into them. To explain the words would mean…

A Metaphor of American Culture

During the last few days, Oklahoma has seen a tremendous ice storm (there are plenty of blogs and news articles about it) and while this post won’t primarily focus on that, there was some deep theological reflections I made during the storm. Most notably is that of the Bradford Pear tree.

For those of you not in the know, the Bradford Pear (Pyrus calleryiana) is a cultivated variety of the Callery Pear. It is mostly grown for its quick growth cycle and beautiful foliage. In Autumn the leaves turn a bright to deep red. Because of the ornamental beauty and quick growth, the Bradford Pear is a very popular tree especially in suburban areas.

But it has a major flaw. It does not stand up to the harsh weather in Oklahoma. During the spring time, when wind gusts can get up to 60mph (and sometimes much stronger), the tree often just snaps. This ice storm destroyed many a Bradford Pear in my neighborhood. In fact, our neighbor to the West lost the whole tree (and his tenant lost a windsh…

The End of the World!

Well, not really...but kinda.

Our lessons this last week had a 'end of the world' flair and some people took it literally -- both in the texts and the study groups I was in. Our Old Testament Lesson was taken from Malachi:
Malachi 4.5-6. Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the Lord arrives. His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers. Otherwise I will come and strike the land with a curse.
In one group I led, I asked the men they understood this passage. The ones who answered said that is was still in our future. I'm sure that many people, especially here in the States, do too. But let's do a little theme study.
Matthew 11.11-15. "I tell you the truth, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he is! And from the time John the Baptist began preaching until now, t…

Affirmations

I like it when I get affirmations about things I see in the Scriptures. A couple of examples of this took place this last week.

First, in Education for Ministry (EfM), Year One is reading the Old Testament (or Jewish Scriptures). Our lesson was over the call and covenant of Abraham. Well, the whole Abraham story, actually. Anyway, there is a great scene when YHWH makes the covenant with Abraham. In Genesis 15.17-18a, we read:
After the sun went down and darkness fell, Abram saw a smoking firepot and a flaming torch pass between the halves of the carcasses. So the Lord made a covenant with Abram that day (New Living Translation, emphasis added).
Notice again the 'smoking firepot and a flaming torch'. What is the first thing that pops into your head when you read that? For a number of years I have seen the Exodus in those symbols. In the Exodus, YHWH lead the people by a 'pillar of cloud' during the day and a 'pillar of fire' at night (Exodus 13.21). In th…

Ministry of Reconciliation -- Part 4

The Gateway of Hope

Previously we have learned that the ministry of reconciliation has (at least) four parts: 1) definition; 2) reconciling ourselves to God; and 3) reconciling with other people. In this fourth and final part we will be looking at how we can be reconciled with all of creation.

Before we can see where we are going, it might be helpful to see from where we have come.
Genesis 1.27-31. God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”

Then God said, "Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food. And I have given every green plant as food for all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—everything that ha…

Collect (Prayer) of the Week: Pentecost, proper 25

Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Dual booting: PCLinuxOS 2007 and Ubuntu 7.10

As you all know, I am a HUGE PCLOS fan. It is my distro of choice. However, with Dell selling systems with Ubuntu pre-installed, I know I will be getting some calls about what to do. So, I figured I would install Ubuntu and see what I can figure out. I downloaded the latest version of Ubuntu (7.10, ‘Gutsy Gibbon’) and burned it to a CD. I then rebooted my laptop (an old Compaq) and launched into the Live CD. Everything seemed to work pretty well. (Except my wireless card. But I'm used to this.) So I clicked on the ‘Install’ icon and went about the install process. I wanted to make sure I could keep my PCLinuxOS install intact so I made sure Ubuntu installed on the remaining free space on my hard drive. This is one of the greatest features of Linux, IMO. I can take a small 30GB hard drive (small by today’s standards) and install two operating systems and still have plenty of space for all of my documents and pictures. In fact, I have the exact same on both partitions wit…

Collect (Prayer) for the Week: Pentecost, Proper 24

Almighty and everlasting God, in Christ you have revealed your glory among the nations: Preserve the works of your mercy, that your Church throughout the world may persevere with steadfast faith in the confession of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Collect: Pentecost, Proper 23

Lord, we pray that your grace may always precede and follow us, that we may continually be given to good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Different Expressions

'What if well-funded megachurches decided to see some home-based faith communities as partners in ministry, so they could overlap and share resources and not see one another as enemies or even alternatives, but as two expressions of the same thing? That takes us in the direction I think we need to go, and will be good for the whole range of faith communities.'
Brian D. McLaren

I find that quote very exciting. I have never looked at other denominations in this light before and it brings a whole new view from which we can all work together. The problem comes, of course, when we see 'our church' as the 'right' way of 'doing church' instead of a different expression of people who are trying to following Jesus.

What would happen if we tried to follow this model? I think we would be closer to what Jesus prayed in John 17:
I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you,…

All Authority?

And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’
Matthew 28.18-20

I have been thinking about this passage for a few days now and I am still contemplating verse 18. Jesus said, 'All authority...on earth has been given to me.' What does this mean?

Some have stated 'all authority on earth' means:

Clarke -- '[To] convert sinners; to sanctify, protect, and perfect his Church; to subdue all nations to himself; and, finally, to judge all mankind.'

Henry -- [Having] prevailed with God, by the sacrifice of atonement, he prevails with men, and deals with them as one having authority, by the ministry of reconciliation. He is indeed, in all causes and over all persons, supreme Modera…

The editor formally known as 'P'

For those of us who aren't aware, 'P' (which stands for priestly) is a member of the Documentary Hypothesis. He is seen as the last source (or next to last source) in a line of four editors who compiled the Pentateuch (Genesis -- Deuteronomy). Supposedly, this source was composed and edited circa 550-400 BCE while in exile during the Babylonian captivity. 'P' is said to see God as a 'distant and unmerciful' god and uses 'Elohim' for God's name. Also, 'P' is supposed to be saying that God didn't create the cosmos ex nihilo, i.e., from nothing, because Genesis 1.2 states, 'The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters.'. This (supposedly) indicates that there was something already here (the deep waters) when God started the Genesis project.

Some of you are going, 'Wait. What?' I know. I have some issues with this, too. Here are a few things that I want to point out.

First, concerning the …

Eucharistic Visitor

I have been appointed as a Eucharistic Visitor.  I have this honor for three years and the privilege of serving the community of St. John's.  I had to attend a training class and fill out some paper work but my 'certification' was issued by Bishop Moody on August 18th, 2007.

So what is a Eucharistic Visitor?  Good question!  What we do is extend the Eucharist to the parish family who can't attend the public service.  We take bulletins, altar flowers, the Lessons, and a little Eucharist kit to people who are in the hospital or home bound for whatever reason.  We receive our kits right after the rest of the body has partaken of the elements and go directly to the other members.  This extends the worship for those people who can't attend.  It's such an honor to be able to do this.  It is also very humbling.  And I have been twice.  The first time, I went with someone else to see how it's done.  (I found out a couple of weeks later that the gentleman we saw had …

African-American, Asian-American, Native-American and...

...White?

What is wrong with this picture? Does anyone else see the obvious racism in this list? It's not right to say, 'Black person, Yellow person, Red person', so why is it alright to say 'White person'? Does anyone else see the double-standard here?

Have we become too politically correct for our own good? 'Those terms are used in derogatory ways by whites', some will say. And we don't think that 'whites' is derogatory? Or is that the point?

Has the 'white, heterosexual, male' been in power so long that he is seen as public enemy number one? I mean, if you listen to other people, he is blamed for a lot of the problems in the world.  Mind you, this isn't without merit. History is full of his actions.  Even today, there are some Anglo-American males who have just continued the oppression. They feel that they are better than other people because of something as silly as skin color. Some of them are stupid enough to say and thi…

'Sick to my guts...'

I usually don't make posts like this because I'm way outta my element. But I am sick of all of the hype I see in the media. The whole one sided take on journalism. Each program has an agenda. As my wife says, 'You find what you're looking for'. It would absolutely kill a mainstream media person like Olbermann to say President Bush has done something good and right. Likewise it would kill a 'talk radio' media person like Limbaugh to say that Senator Clinton or Senator Obama did something good and right. We are a country shown the extremes. Most of the mainstream media are such Bush haters, that's right I stated 'haters', that they would actually explode if they had to report on the good that he has done. Likewise 'Fox' news and talk radio hosts are such Democrat haters that they, too, would explode if they had to report on any good that they have done. 'Fair and balanced' my butt! Everyone, everyone has their agenda. It…

Slave or Free?

'Freedom in Jesus looks like slavery to the world, and indeed it is slavery to God and to righteousness, and in following Christ, if need be, even to death, which brings the final freedom, especially at the resurrection.'
This is a quote from Ted over at Jesus Community. He was responding to comments made to his post Freedom. And I think it's brilliant. What I think is important in all of this is a question that a lot of people don't even ask: What has our 'freedom' cost us? In other words, we may think we are free, but we are enslaved by that very thing we are free to do. Alcohol is a perfect example of that. We are free to choose to drink or not to drink. That is one of the 'rights' we have living as free people in the USA (as well as other countries). But at what cost? There are some people who can't drink alcohol. They become addicts. But, by god, they freely chose to drink! It is their 'god given right' to drink! But, again, a…

Quote

From my reading for EfM class:
How a community worships its god or gods [goddess or goddesses -- OD] shows how that community sees the very foundations of its culture.
Given today's culture, what are your thoughts of this?

Peace be with you.

+ OD

Formerly

I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he judged me faithful and appointed me to his service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost. But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
1Timothy 1.12-17 (NRSV)

I want talk about change. In this passage, St Paul wrote that he was 'formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence'. The key word here is '…

Education for Ministry

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I am so excited!  I have started EfM this year and am chomping at the bit.  This is a four year program to help people with ministry.  It covers the basics of a theological education in the Old and New Testaments, church history, liturgy, and theology.  Last night was the first class and it covered the typical introductory stuff.  One thing that is done at the beginning each year is to establish Guiding Principles -- kind of a guide to help us keep on track.  A couple of the best things was confidentiality and 'no cross-talking'.  These two things alone will help set a nice 'safe' place for us to discuss things openly without worry of childish name-calling.  Another important guide is that of growth.  The idea is that we come to class with the mind set on being stretched theologically.

This is more of a 'student led' type of course, meaning that we don't have a 'teacher' but a mentor.  Our mentor is there t…

iMac

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As some of you know, I am a Geek. I own my own computer consulting business and last night was a special treat. One of my clients asked me to accompany her to purchase a new computer. And not just any computer. A brand-spanking new iMac. In case you don't know, the iMac is made by Apple Inc. It is a all-in-one design that is beautiful as well as practical. It comes in either a 20" or 24" model. My client opted for the 20" model (after much discussion). Here are the other hardware specs:

2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
1GB memory
320GB SATA hard drive
8x double-layer SuperDrive
ATI Radeon HD 2600 PRO with 256MB memory
AirPort Extreme (802.11n wifi)
Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR
Apple Keyboard
Apple Remote
Mighty Mouse

Each model comes with an iSight camera (for video chat), SuperDrive (DVD burner), Mac OS X (of course), and iLife (Apple's multimedia suite), just to mention a few. She also purchased an Airport Extreme wireless base station.
As noted, the new iMac comes with the new 8…

Proper 16 + Tuesday

A reading from the First Letter to the Corinthians by Clement, Bishop of Rome [c. 100]

Beloved, see what a marvelous thing love is, its perfection is beyond our expression.  Who can truly love save those to whom God grants it?  We ought to beg and beseech him in his mercy that our love may be genuine, unmarred by any too human inclination.  From Adam down to the present time all generations have passed away; but those who were perfected in love by God’s grace have a place among the saints who will be revealed when the kingdom of Christ comes to us.  As it is written: ‘Enter your chambers for a little while, until my wrath and anger pass away; and I shall remember a good day and raise you from your graves.’  We are blessed, beloved, if we fulfill the commands of the Lord in harmonious, loving union, so that through love our sins may be forgiven.  For it is written: ‘Blessed are those whose transgression are forgiven, whose sins are covered.  Blessed is the one to whom the Lord imputes n…

The Heart of a Daughter

The heart of a daughter is a precious and fragile thing. And yet, it is the most resilient Juggernaut of all hearts. I see in the brokenness of my daughter's heart, my heart. It is my belief that every Father's heart grows with the breaking of his daughter's heart. Not that it doesn't grow at other times, but when a daughter's heart is breaking and broken, the swell of love and compassion is unspeakable. It almost becomes a mother's heart. Almost.

The Father's heart is a strange thing. At times, it must be 'tough' at the expense of being compassionate. But even in that toughness, the compassion runs through. In the quiet moments, the compassion demands to be heard. The toughness runs like a scared child and the compassion, with groans that cannot be understood, comes rushing forward. It is almost like birth pangs. Almost.

It's times like these I question. I question God and Love and all that makes me a Christian. Not to the point of …