Archive for August 10th, 2009

Friends,

It’s been a long time since I posted any Bible studies on CRN.info.  I could say lots of things have been going on recently that have been preventing me from posting, like deployment, returning from deployment and getting used to stateside again, blah blah blah.  But in all reality I’ve just not made any time to post Bible studies and other thoughts.

I figure another contributing factor to my writer’s block might be related to a funny story:

Recently a good friend of mine decided it’d be an awesome idea to break my wrist with…wait for it…A SOCCER BALL.  When I told the Doctor this he exclaimed “Really? A soccer ball? I thought you weren’t allowed to touch the ball with your hands?”, to which I replied, “Unless you’re the goalie, Doc”, then he said, “Pretty crappy goalie neh?”, “Well I stopped the ball at least, that counts for something, right?”, “No,” he said, “it doesn’t, but what you can count are the four weeks I’m going to make you wear this cast for…”  Awesome. So needless to say, typing this is quite a chore, so you got to figure, why choose NOW to post something, I mean I haven’t posted anything since before I deployed, what’s another month?

Well, basically I’m stir crazy and I obviously think I have something interesting to write about.  So, enough of the bad personal anecdotes, and remember, when it rains it pours, so don’t hate me for the length of this post :)

16While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. 17So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. 18A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. 19Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we want to know what they mean.” 21(All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)

22Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.

24“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 28For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

29“Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by man’s design and skill. 30In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.”

32When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” 33At that, Paul left the Council. 34A few men became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.” Acts 17:16-34 (emphasis my own)

This past week I had been studying this section of Scripture, and the context surrounding it historically.  I had been reminded of it because of a conversation I was following in the comments section about an Anne Lamott quotation.  Somehow, whether because the conversation turned that way or the wheels in my head just started turning, it got me thinking about the veracity of using ‘truth’ wherever you find it.  That made me think of how we can relate and erm…be RELEVANT to others by using what we find along our way, or what ‘works’ for the situation, culture, or person.  It struck a note in my mind, I said to myself “Where have I seen someone do this before in Scripture?  I know there’s a good example…” which brought me to Acts 17, of course…

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Truth in AdvertisingI don’t normally post the one-liners I hear, or am given, but this one is still making me chuckle due to its incredibly high truth and irony quotient…

“Apprising Ministries is to Ministry what Planned Parenthood is to Parenthood…”

-uncredited (though I will give credit if he/she wants it :) )

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A while back, I read this fantastic little book called Perspectives on Election: Five Views. It is a helpful book–who could imagine that humans could even invent consistent supralapsarian perspective on election, let alone teach it to people in the pew–and yet that is one of the five perspectives discussed in the book.

The view range from that just mentioned to infralapsarian election (a variation on the Calvinist doctrine) to Classic Arminianism to Universal Reconciliation and the Inclusive nature of Election to Divine Election as Corporate, Open, and Vocational.

The authors are varied and include: Bruce Ware, Robert Reymond, Jack Cottrell, Thomas Talbott, and Clark Pinnock. Each author wrote from his own perspective and then the other authors respond with criticisms of that position based on their own position. So, for example, if Robert Reymond wrote about the supralapsarian position all the other writers wrote a criticism of his position each from the point of view they adhere to.

It is a fascinating book and if  you are interested at all in such discussion, you should get it and read it. Today’s thought for the day comes from this book and in particular it comes from Thomas Talbott who wrote from, espoused, and defended the position of Universal Reconciliation and Inclusive Nature of Election (a point of view that I do not necessarily endorse myself). Still, his thoughts are worthy of consideration.

Consider first a mere awkwardness in the doctrine of limited election. If God has commanded us to love our families, our neighbors, and even our enemies, as the New Testament consistently affirms, then a doctrine of limited election carries the awkward implication that God hates (or simply fails to love) some of the ones whom he has commanded us to love. Jesus declared  that we are to love our enemies as well as our friends, so that (a) we might be children of our Father in heaven and (b) we might be perfect even as our Father in heaven is perfect (see Matthew 5:43-48); that is, we are to love our enemies because God loves them, and we should be like God in just this respect. So why should God command us to love some of the ones whom he himself fails to love? The reply that we can never know in this life who are not the objects of God’s love may seem to provide a practical reason for loving all, lest we fail to love a true object of God’s love. But such an answer hardly accords well with the words of 1 John 4:8, ‘Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.’” (Thomas Talbott, Perspectives on Election: Five Views, 215)

So just exactly who are we to love? And please, for the love of all that is right and good, do not dismiss Talbott’s quote simply because he is a universalist. Consider carefully what he has said, and have at it.

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