June 2010

The Lost Codex – Version 2

by Dave on June 30, 2010

in Theology

I have spent some time in looking at the V1.o of the Lost Codex and realize a couple things I would like to correct.  First, here is the existing LC.

Everyone!  As your fathers and the prophets have promised, I have come make everything right between you and God.  I have come to tell you of a new way of life that was promised by God.  I am here to be the leader of the world.  Rejoice, for I am ushering in the Kingdom of God which is available to you here and now.  This Kingdom of God has two commands.  First, love God with all you have and second, love your neighbor as yourself.  That’s it!  It is simple!  Believe that it truly is THE WAY!  If you believe that this really is The Way, you will have the opportunity to live a life of the ages.  A life that is the way that Yahweh always wanted you and all people to live.

The problem I have with this is that the  beginning points to much toward Jesus himself and not enough toward the effect of his existence.  I think he would say something much more like the new V2.0 here:

Everyone! As your fathers and prophets have promised, God has overcome everything that holds you back in your holiness and fulfillment in life. He has shown that the religions of man, the empires of man and death itself are no match for him. He has resurrected me after the religion condemned me, the government sentenced me and death was with me for three days.

In doing this, God has shown that my love for all of you is the true way of God. I am the first person to now be fully in this new Kingdom of God and you too can participate in it before the end of time. All you have to do is Love God and Love Each Other. That’s it! It is simple! Believe that it truly is THE WAY! If you believe that this really is The Way, you will have the opportunity to live a life of the ages. A life that is the way that Yahweh always wanted you and all people to live.

This puts God as the action agent in Jesus resurrection. Yes, Jesus overcame death, but is it wrong to say that God resurrected him? I am starting to think that the way it happened is by God. But then again, three persons in one God creates an odd dynamic in this.

If you have thoughts about this, then let me know

Dave

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Who Thinks this Strange Way?

by Dave on June 28, 2010

in Theology

I was asked, by my Father, if I am coming up with this stuff on my own.  I want to assure him that I am not alone in trying to recover this lost meaning from the scriptures.  Actually, I am very much an amateur in this pursuit and am writing this blog as an outlet for working out the meaning of the scriptures in my life.

I have to say, that much of the structure of my thoughts have come from Bishop Wright (NT Wright in my links).  In addition to the many presentations and lectures and web pages he has written, I also have two of his books.  For me, Christianity made no sense at all until I understood his take on it.

So there are many who have influenced my direction.  I have all of Rob Bell’s books and also listen to the Mars Hill service every week.  I have some of Brian McLaren’s books.  I also read a lot on the Internet from a lot of sources, but find the most thoughtful engagement by debating topics with the brilliant people over at the Jesus Creed to be the best.  I hope to find more in the future.

So the theology I am working out here on this blog is my synthesis of many of these sources.  As someone said, I milk many cows but churn my own butter.

Dave

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Romans Part 4

by Dave on June 27, 2010

in Theology

So far we have discussed the Paul, Jesus being the Messiah and a bit about the gospel.  Now I think we have enough background to start to get at what the letter to the Romans is saying.

Verses 5, 6 and 7

Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. 6And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.  NIV

Here we start to get into some of the basic foundations of Paul’s mission.  In verse 5 he makes it clear that it is through Jesus (him) that they received grace and the mission (apostleship).  How did Jesus do this?

For Paul, Jesus came in a vision that temporarily blinded him and somehow had the message of Jesus and the significance of Jesus revealed to him.  The significance of Jesus is that because he rose from the dead, he is now officially the Messiah of the Jewish people.  The Messiah is the king of the Jews that will come to bring the Kingdom of God here on earth and rule forever.  Remember, Israel is to bring forth a ruler that will rule over all the kingdoms of the world.  Jesus is that ruler, that King.

So in the second part of verse 5, he makes it clear that all people are called to be under the kingship of Jesus the King.  And what happens if you believe that someone is your King?  If you truly believe that someone is your King then you will be obedient to that King.  Jesus rising from the dead meant that he was the King that the prophets spoke about, the King that was promised to Abraham to be a King of all the world.  And if you believe that he is this King, then you will be obedient to him.  That is what Paul means by “to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith”.

In verse 6 he again emphasizes that those in Rome, the people of Rome are those who are called to belong to Jesus the Messiah of the Jews.  The term Christ means the Messiah.  It does not mean that he is God’s son (though I believe that to be true), it means that he is the great Kingdom Bringer!  The one who will bring the Kingdom of Israel’s God (Yahweh) to all the world.

We have heard it said many times that by dying on the cross Jesus proved he was God and then went to heaven so that we too will go to heaven when we die.  But that is not what the gospel is about.  Instead, the gospel is that God raised Jesus from the dead (the first resurrection), thereby proving that resurrection does happen and this then means that Jesus was indeed the promised King of Israel that would make Israel the nation to rule all other Nations.  And Jesus teaching as this ruler was to Love Others.

So, in verse 5 and 6, I could write it like this in my words:

Jesus the new King of Israel has given us the mission to tell all people that he started to bring the Kingdom of God here on earth and that we should be obedient to him if we believe that he is this new king.  All of you, all the people of the world and not just the Jews are able to participate in the new Kingdom by obeying his teachings.

Dave

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My Previous Church

by Dave on June 27, 2010

in Uncategorized

To my friends.  I have taken down the post temporarily that discussing the reasons for my leaving Western Hanover Church at the request of a friend in that church.  I still stand by everything I said in that post and continue to caution anyone who wants to dedicate themselves to their mission because of the fact that they hid the constitution of the church from me and deliberately lied about the nature of the administration of the church.

If you simply want to attend and have a nice church service then go ahead, it is great for that.  But if you want to help participate in the mission of the church then please due your due diligence to see exactly what the mission of the church is.

Dave

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Lost Codex – Loose Ends

by Dave on June 24, 2010

in Theology

In addition to the conversation (or monologue) I am posting on Paul and his letter to the Romans, I routinely play with the good people over at the Jesus Creed.  In the past couple days they have been discussing:

Christ and the Dragons - James Emery White thinks evangelicalism is teetering over a precipice, and his new book — Christ Among the Dragons: Finding Our Way Through Cultural Challenges — probes topics that are in need of serious discussion.

This discussion helped me advance a couple of ideas that I have been tossing around lately.  The first, is the idea of what the gospel is in Christianity.  I posted the same gospel that I wrote in my Romans Part 3 thread and also the following:

This all ties in together with the natural theology conversation of the other thread. Jesus knows we are human and that we will fall short of always loving God and Other. He tells us that sinning against God and Him is forgivable, because all will. However, as is in natural theology, it should be obvious to people that there is a right and wrong and you need to do the right thing. Jesus did us the favor of telling us this (the right thing is to love God and the Other). But the eternal sin is not the sin of Adam, the eternal sin, the unforgivable sin is the sin where you know right from wrong and do not do what is right. Where the Holy Spirit has guided you to knowing in your heart and you believe what is right and you choose to do wrong. That is the unforgivable sin. So in that vein God does not judge us, we judge ourselves by our own choosing.

I realize this is simplistic, but I can’t help but think that it has to be that simple. God does not save the smart, the educated (the rich), the well read, but the meek, the humble, the not so smart…

Dave

The natural theology that I am talking about in the quote above relates to where we are going in the letter of Paul to the Romans.  I will be discussing that in more detail as we get to verse 18 and beyond in Chapter 1.

I also hope to write more about the eternal sin in future posts.  The eternal sin is to sin against the Holy Spirit….

I have been wondering why we all must make the message of Jesus so tremendously complicated.  So I have been trying to come up with a principle that could be used in our reading of the bible that would be similar to the cosmological principlethat is used in trying to figure out our place in the universe.  The cosmological principle pretty much states that we are not in a unique place or time in our existence here on earth.  By adopting that principle we are able to realize that the earth is not the center of the solar system, or our sun the center of the universe, or our galaxy the center of the universe.  Instead, it makes us be humble.  It makes us look against our human nature and strive to realize that it really is not all about us.

So I have come up with my first cut at the equivalent of a cosmological principle for Christianity.

The gospel must be simple.

So there it is.

I am pretty sure that I am going to make a new page on this site that will contain The Lost Codex.  It is the gospel and teachings of Christianity, as best as I can render them, and I will update this over time.

Dave

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Romans Part 3 – The Gospel

by Dave on June 23, 2010

in Theology

In the first post I discussed the idea of Jesus being the Messiah, the king or leader that would come to herald in God’s kingdom in this world.  It was assumed that this was to be a human, a real king, not someone like Jesus.

In the second part I talked a bit about Paul.  Paul was very Jewish and only became a Jesus follower after Jesus died and rose from the dead.  He was a Jewish insider as well as a Roman citizen.

In this part I will discuss “the gospel”.  The beginning of the Letter to the Romans states:

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. NIV

Besides having a good idea of who Jesus and Paul are, it would be a good idea to have some idea as to what the gospel is that Paul is talking about.  Paul says that he is “set apart for the gospel of God- the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son..”  You may have heard that the word gospel means good news and indeed I do believe this is the sense in which Paul is using the word.  In Greek it is euaggelion, which also has more of a good tidings, or good message flavor to it.

The point I want to make about the use of the word gospel by Paul, is that when he is writing the letter to the Romans he is not talking about what he has to say, but he is referring to what Jesus did and what he said.  The gospel is how the man Jesus fulfilled the prophetic narrative, declared his message to the people and was risen from the dead thereby ushering in a new age, a new kingdom to come for all of humanity.

This gospel that I am talking about is in stark contrast to the “good news” that so many of our reformed churches in the US teach.  I propose that the gospel according to Jesus goes something like this:

Everyone!  As your fathers and the prophets have promised, I have come make everything right between you and God.  I have come to tell you of a new way of life that was promised by God.  I am here to be the leader of the world.  Rejoice, for I am ushering in the Kingdom of God which is available to you here and now.  This Kingdom of God has two commands.  First, love God with all you have and second, love your neighbor as yourself.  That’s it!  It is simple!  Believe that it truly is THE WAY!  If you believe that this really is The Way, you will have the opportunity to live a life of the ages.  A life that is the way that Yahweh always wanted you and all people to live.

That is some good news as far as I am concerned.  Unfortunately, many of our religions have forgotten the gospel.  They have instead contorted it to mean something more like this:

One God: Infinite, Eternal and Unchangeable, subsisting in a mysterious and Eternal Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. 1 John 5:7-8, Matt. 28:19

One Word: The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments of faith and practice. 2 Timothy 3:16-17, 2 Peter 1:16-21

One Condemnation: There being no difference, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, because the carnal mind being born of corruptible seed, is enemy against God. Romans 3:10-26, Romans 6:23, John 3:16, Ezekiel 16:4

One Savior: The Lord Jesus Christ, God manifest in the flesh; His essential deity, virgin birth, sinless life, vicarious death, physical Heaven from whence He shall return personally and premillennially to set up an earthly kingdom. John 1:1-14, John 14:9, Isaiah 7:14, Acts 3:12-26, Hebrews 9:24, 1 Cor. 15:12-15, 1 Thess. 4:13-18, Acts 1:11, Rev. 19:11-16, Rev. 19:19-20, 20:1-6, Titus 2:11-14.

One Atonement for Sin: Made by Jesus Christ in a substitutionary and sacrificial death on the cross, sufficient for all, available to all, and that all must be born again or be forever lost. Mark 10:45, John 3:3, 36, Romans 5:1-10, 1 Cor. 5:18-21, Hebrews 2:9.

One Spirit: God, the Holy Ghost whose work is to reprove the world, of sin, of righteousness and of judgment, and through whose sovereign agency in sanctification the soul is changed more and more into the Divine Image from glory to glory. John 16:7-15, 2 Cor. 3:18.

One Life: The Life is with Christ in God – The Life Eternal; begun when a sinner believes and receives Him and continuing thereafter by the effectual and sovereign grace of God. Phil. 1:6, Eph. 1:13, John 1:12, Romans 10:9-10, John 10:26-29.

One Church: Which is Christ’s Body, all the members of which God hath from the beginning chosen in Christ to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth. Eph. 1:4, Eph. 1:14, 22-23, 6:25-32.

Two Destinies: Heaven, a place of eternal life and bliss, and Hell, a place of everlasting punishment eternally separated from God. 2 Cor. 3:10, Rev. 20:1-15, Rev. 21:1-29, Hebrews 9:27-18, Matt. 25:46, Luke 16:19-31.

One Satan: Both Temper and Accuser who exists in personality and reality. Rev. 12:9-10, Matt. 4:2-11, John 8:44, Eph. 6:11-12.

One Commission: The Great Evangelistic Commission given by Jesus Christ to the Disciples and the continuing Church. Matt. 28:16-20, Acts 1:8.

The Blessed Hope: The personal premillennial return of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. John 14:3, 1 Thess. 4:13-18.

Two Ordinances: Baptism, the immersion in water of a believer in Christ which symbolizes His identity with the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, and the Lord’s Supper, the eating of the unleavened bread and drinking of the fruit of the vine, commemorating the broken body and shed blood of Jesus Christ for the remission of sin. Acts 2:11, Acts 8:36-38, Romans 6:3-4, Luke 22:14-20, 1 Cor. 11:23-26, Acts 8:12-13.

For more information please click the link below:

Baptist Faith and Message

I got this from the Beaverdam Baptist Church website.  I will use my definition for “the gospel” and not the Baptist one as I work through my posts on the letter Paul wrote to the Romans mainly because I believe that it is the true message that Jesus taught.  It is a simple message that truly proclaims the good news of Jesus.

Jesus gave us the gospel, the good news, good message and good tidings.  What Paul is doing in his letter is not proclaiming the gospel as much as fighting for the gospel.  Paul is offering a perspective and clarification for the people in Rome.

Next time, I want to start getting into versus 5 and 6 which begins to bring into light the faith versus works paradigm of the great reformation.

Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. 6And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ. NIV

I also want to bring out one theme that I hope to develop in subsequent posts.  This theme is that Jesus and the Apostles were poor people of low standing.  We get so caught up in the Jesus is Lord, and Kingdom of God that I believe that these words have lost the impact that they had in the time of Jesus.  Jesus was a poor person who was the opposite of a Lord and King.  That is a big part of the point of what happened.

Dave

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Romans Part 2 – About Paul

by Dave on June 21, 2010

in Theology

In the first post of my series looking at the Epistle of Paul to the Romans I discussed a bit about the role of the messiah (the Christ) from a Jewish perspective.  Today, I want to talk about Paul himself since we need to understand some things about Paul before tackling his letter to the Romans.

However, I have now reconsidered my position.  Rather than a lengthy exposition on Paul the person, I have come to realize that I really don’t think that it is appropriate to say too much about him right at the beginning.  I also do not have the patience to go into a history of Paul with you can just look up Paul of Tarsus on Wikipedia and learn enough about him that you would have all you need to go into the future posts.

Having said that, Paul identified himself as an apostle in the first line of his letter to the Romans, but he does not appear in any of the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).  Instead, Paul makes his debut in the biblical story in the first book after the Gospels, namely the Acts of the Apostles.<!--more-->

We know that Paul was a Pharisee, that is one of the very religious sects of Judaism at the time.  Paul was known to be someone who torture and torment Christians but on one fine day, he had a vision of the resurrected Messiah.  As a result of the vision he became blind, and then suddenly became perhaps the biggest and most influential activist supporting Christianity to this day.  Paul was a rock star.  In one instant God helped him see the light (pun intended) and now he was bought the story hook line and sinker.

Paul traveled the Mediterranean area planting new churches for this Jesus following  community and teaching what he called the gospel (more on that later).  The book of Romans was a letter that he wrote to a community of people in Rome who had already heard the gospel, but Paul had more to tell to them.

I believe the book of Romans contains much of the source material for the division between the reformed churches and non-reformed.  It also has a very interesting side-bar into what some have called natural theology, which is a personal favorite of mine since I believe in simplicity.

Many would think that simplicity has little to do with theology, but I think it could not be more wrong on that account.  If theology (how we know and relate to God) is difficult, then it could not be true.  God is everyone’s God, not the God of the intellectuals.  Not the God of the elite.  Not the God of the educated.  God is the God of,….us.

Whew.  I have been laboring over this post and I am glad I got it out of the way so I can move forward into some of the elements that I find more inerteresting.

God bless you and please give me a comment or two….

Dave

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Romans Part 1

by Dave on June 18, 2010

in Theology

Romans begins:

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.  NIV

This gets good right away.  Paul identifies himself as a servant of Jesus Christ but what does he mean by Jesus Christ? When Paul says Jesus Christ he is saying that he is the “anointed one” of Israel, God’s chosen people.  In Hebrew the word was Messiah, and in Greek it is Christ.  In either case it is not a name for Jesus, nor is it a title that says Jesus is necessarily divine.

To understand where Paul is going with this, we have to back up a bit into the Jewish history and recognize the role of the Messiah.  Per Wikipedia:

In Jewish messianic tradition and eschatology, messiah refers to a leader anointed by God, and in some cases, a future King of Israel, physically descended from the Davidic line, who will rule the people of a united tribes of Israel[2] and herald the Messianic Age[3] of global peace. In Judaism, the Messiah is not considered to be the literal, physical God or Son of God.

As you can see, we modern (or postmodern, more on that later) Christians immediately assume that the Christ, the Messiah, is equivalent with calling Jesus God.  Even the name of our religion, Christianity, implicitly defines the Christ as being our God.  But that was not the case back in the time of Paul before Jesus came on the scene.  Instead, the Messiah, or anointed one was to be a new leader that will come forth and help Israel regain its lost glory.  Most Jews at the time thought that the messiah was going to be a war king that will wage war on its enemies and defeat them.  This king would not be divine in the sense that our modern Christian minds think of Jesus, instead this Christ was going to build the military and reinstate Israel to its rightful place as God’s chosen people.  God’s chosen people meant that they would win in battles and inhabit the land.  It was an earthly title, the Christ.

But why did the Jews need a messiah?  The history of the Jewish people can be cast in one form as a continual cycle of sin, exile, and redemption through a new covenant.  This started back in the time of Adam where Adam ate from the apple, was exiled from the garden.  This cycle continued over and over from Babel, Noah, Abraham, and the Babylonian exile.  The last stage in this theme occurred over the few centuries before Jesus where the Jewish people where exiles in their own land.  Alexander the Great conquered and occupied the land, and then at the time of Jesus it was the Roman empire.  The people were exiles in their own land living under the domination of an external power.  This was humiliating for God’s chosen people.  Granted, they were not exiles in a foreign country under slavery, but they still did not have control over their own destiny.  The messiah would be a great leader, like Moses, or King David, someone who could restore the former glory of Israel and make it a nation to rule over all other nations.  They would have the King.

Next time I will have to go into a bit of background on Paul…

Dave

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The Lost Codex of Paul

by Dave June 15, 2010

I have been fascinated with the direction that Christianity has taken over the past couple decades.  As I have learned more and more about what it meant to be a Christian in first century Jerusalem I realize that many of the Christian churches have it totally wrong. Last fall I was in a bible study [...]

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A New Beginning..I think…

by Dave June 11, 2010

I am on the verge of a new beginning in this blog.  The reason is that I have recently resigned from my responsibilities at my church and am evaluating what I need to be doing in my spiritual life.  It’s not an easy decision. Please pray for me, and pray for my former church.  I [...]

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