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Showing posts from October, 2013

Series: New Testament Eschatology

From time to time, I hear a lot about the early church’s understanding of the “end of the world” or their belief that the “Second Coming of Jesus” would take 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. I know it’s hard to imagine but what if we’re mistaken? What if we’ve misunderstood what they meant? I’m hoping that this series on some of the major statements from the New Testament about the “end of the world” will show that they weren’t 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. My reason for this is because those words are like suitcases where ideas and thoughts and understandings are packed into them. To explain the words would mean a long time spent unpacking the suitcases and explaining their contents. While such a pilgrimag…

Weekly Gospel Reflection—27 October 2013

Luke 18.9-14: Jesus told this parable to certain people who had convinced themselves that they were righteous and who looked on everyone else with disgust: “Two people went up to the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed about himself with these words, ‘God, I thank you that I’m not like everyone else—crooks, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week. I give a tenth of everything I receive.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance. He wouldn’t even lift his eyes to look toward heaven. Rather, he struck his chest and said, ‘God, show mercy to me, a sinner.’ I tell you, this person went down to his home justified rather than the Pharisee. All who lift themselves up will be brought low, and those who make themselves low will be lifted up.”
Since the Reformation (at least) a lot of Christian thought has painted the Jewish religion as a religion based on works. That is to say, if someone does certai…

Didache—Chapter 8

8 Your Fasts and prayers
8:1 Your fasts should not be with the hypocrites, for they fast on Mondays and Thursdays. You should fast on Wednesdays and Fridays.
8:2 And do not pray like the hypocrites, but rather as the Lord commanded in the gospel: Our Father in heaven, holy be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us enough bread day-by-day. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.
8:3 Pray this three times each day.
How many of us fast a regular basis? Sure, some of us may fast for special occasions, but what about a weekly discipline? And not just once a week—twice a week! From what I can gather, this is the oldest reference to fasting on Wednesday and Friday. Of course, the fact that followers of Jesus would fast is evident from the Gospel of Matthew. And to my knowledge, the Eastern Orthodox are the only Christian tradition that still practices …

The Goodness of Humanity—Part 5

As we conclude this series on the goodness of humanity (Part 1 is here), I want to look at the obvious signs—all of the “bad things” that happen in the world—that point in the opposite direction of what I’m advocating. That is, if Jesus has really reconciled all things to God, then why aren’t things getting better?
For a lot of Western Christianity, the answer to that question would be, “Because of sin. We’re still sinful people. That this is who we are at the core. We will never be free from sin this side of heaven.” But, obviously, I disagree.
I remember being in a men’s Bible study group once. We were reading the “Sermon on the Mount” from Matthew’s Gospel. We had just finished reading this passage:
Matthew 5.38ff:“You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you that you must not oppose those who want to hurt you. If people slap you on your right cheek, you must turn the left cheek to them as well. When they wish to haul you to court and ta…

Weekly Gospel Reflection—20 October 2013

Luke 18:1-8 (CEB): Jesus was telling them a parable about their need to pray continuously and not to be discouraged. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him, asking, ‘Give me justice in this case against my adversary.’ For a while he refused but finally said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or respect people, but I will give this widow justice because she keeps bothering me. Otherwise, there will be no end to her coming here and embarrassing me.’ ” The Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. Won’t God provide justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he be slow to help them? I tell you, he will give them justice quickly. But when the Human One comes, will he find faithfulness on earth?”
This is one of those stories that seems to be self explanatory. But, given the context, it’s not as clear as we once thought.
The context for this story actually starts…