Archive for January 9th, 2009

We don’t write all that often about Israel, here.

Well, make that modern-day Israel.

There are some current events there, though, which I believe merit some comment, though I’ve not had the think-time to synthesize a nice article from them. It’s kind of weird, but since a number of folks in my church know I’m so interested in the Hebrew roots of Scripture, they ask me all sorts of questions about modern-day Israel politics (often with Left Behind tinges that I pretty quickly (and effectively, IMHO) squash through what is now a fairly pat refutation of futurist pre-mil dispensatinonalism…).

1) The current situation surprises me none in the least, and I predicted last summer that if Obama won the US election that Israel would be taking significant military actions to protect itself, as it would not be able to count on US support (or non-opposition) after January 20, 2009.  It also would not surprise me if the Gaza action wasn’t a feint to distract from a strike on Iranian nuclear facilities.

2) I support Israel’s ignoring the “sternly written letters” from the UN (not endorsed by the US) in the current fighting.  Israel is trying to eliminate Hamas, a terrorist organization supported by Iran, and quash their ability to lob rockets into Israel several times a day.  I can guaran-darn-tee you that if Cuba decided to lob rockets into Key West every other day that we’d be pounding the ground of Havanah toot-sweet, without much protest from the US populace, regardless of the number of sternly written UN letters gathering mold in our in-box.  In fact, I have to say that Israel’s shown quite a bit of restraint with Gaza, as I believe most Western countries would have leveled Gaza city years ago, with the shenanigans they were involved in…

3) As the sole independent democracy in the region (hopefully to be fully joined soon by Iraq), I believe we should support Israel, though we should not condone true atrocities committed against the Palestinian people (noting that “I put my hood on and now I’m a ‘freedom fighter’” followed by “I take off my hood and now I’m an innocent civilian” doesn’t square with victimhood in my book…)

4) I find that support of Israel, based on hopes of them clearing off the Temple Mount and building a “Third Temple”, is pretty stupid.  Such support gives Israel a blank check in terms of humanitarian policy, completely apart from the shoddy theology on which it is built.  (It seems to me that Paul put to rest the notion of building a Third Temple in his letter to the Corinthins, observing that we, the church, are the Temple of the Holy Spirit – since it vacated the Second Temple on Pentecost, 33 A.D.)

5) In the current conflict, I would also note the “soft” opposition Israel has received to this point from the Arab world, and from the (Fatah) Palestinians outside of Gaza.  Iran (a Persian country – not an Arab one – a distinction we Westerners often miss) is feared more by most Arab countries moreso than Israel is hated.  As such, Israel’s Arab enemies would like to see Iran’s plans thwarted, after which they will go back to hating Israel with a fervor greater than any other passion.

6) People sometimes ask about Genesis 12:1-3 along with other OT passages about the nation of Israel, and whether or not they are still in effect.  My answer to this on is – I am not certain.  I do not believe that the modern state of Israel is equivalent to the ancient religious state of Israel.  However, I do believe that God’s promise was to His chosen people, the Jews, and I don’t see an expiry date on it.  Thus, I see that a pro-semitic policy is wise, particularly in view of the generally anti-semitic view historically held my most corners of the world.  Again, though, I do not see that this is, or should be, a blank check.

So, when I’m asked about Israel, like I was just a few minutes ago in line for lunch, I try not to be too simplistic (realizing that this article is still pretty darn simplistic and that there’s a LOT of context behind what’s going on in that patch of land on the Mediterranean Sea), while still trying to remain true to my faith.

Thus, when someone says “can you give me the short answer”, my answer is “I don’t think there is one”…

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Though the literalists tried to avoid using critical-historical-exegetical methods of interpretation, attempting to continue to read scripture in essentially ‘precritical’ terms, they eventually succumbed to historical-critical methods, believing that by uncovering the ‘real’ history of the text, it would serve their literalist intentions. (As I noted earlier, in my experience, about the only ardent, uncritical defenders of the methods of historical criticism tend to be conservative Evangelicals who believe that history gives them their best defense that the biblical narrative ‘report’ can be secured, stabilized, and made certain through the unassailable historical ‘fact’ recovered by the historian.) To these literalists I would say that if historical methodology has enabled you to secure a text that is truly ‘inerrant’ and ‘infallible,’ then you certainly do not need the Holy Spirit to help you read and interpret Scripture. Nor should you bother with the living, speaking, resurrected Christ. Go worship your unassailable, inerrant, infallible fact and life will be easier for you than attempting to worship the living Christ.”

This, by the way, is why Barth not only rejects topical preaching, be it catechetical, ethical, or occasional, but also rejects expository preaching–if what is meant is extraction of some idea from the biblical text. In expository preaching this extracted idea is then expounded and applied, turning biblical narrative into abstract, general concepts and allegedly ‘biblical principles.’ Barth criticized expository preaching for representing a ‘bondage to the letter’ and an abuse of the Bible, making it into a source rather than a witness. It privileges the text over its context (who is Jesus Christ) and fixed principles of living agency. The only proclamation worthy of the name is the self-proclamation of the Word of God.”

William H. Willimon, Conversations with Barth on Preaching, 35-36 (my emphasis)

Soli Deo Gloria!

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In their latest attempt to label all things herectical C?N does a wonderful job of…well…I’m not exactly sure I can connect the dots.  Apparently John 3:30 means that having a conference to talk about church planting among other things is the opposite of increasing Christ.

Apparently Dwayna believes that at Innovation 3 there is not going to be “one mention of Jesus” the entire time they are discussing:

We’ll be talking about innovative topics like risk and failure in ministry, shaping the culture through the church, how to achieve missional community, and what the church will look like in the year 2020.

And we’ll discuss innovative ministry models, with smaller, practical gatherings centered around multi-site ministry, women’s ministry, externally focused churches, missional renaissance, recovery ministries, generous church initiatives, church planting, and more.

With those topics and the list of pastors I can’t even fathom how anyone could even assume that Jesus would not be mentioned.  Actually I can; leaps in logic, agendas, GBA, and a few other fallacy’s.

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