Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Son of God - Part IX (Conclusion)

Continued from Part VIII.

What is new about the kingdom in the New Testament? When John the Baptist and Jesus proclaimed that the kingdom of God was “at hand” (Mt. 3:2; 4:17) what did they mean? In what way was it only then “at hand”? What is the content of the Good News as it relates the kingdom of God? It is surely not simply that God rules. He has always ruled over his creation. The Old Testament proclaims that God is already king, not only of Israel (Judges 8:23; 1 Sam. 8:6; Ps. 99), but also of the whole earth (Ps. 22:28, 103:19; etc.). The preaching of the kingdom of God in the New Testament is not merely that God as God is King. There’s nothing new about such an assertion. Rather, the newness of the kingdom in the New Testament has to do with the fact that now, since his resurrection and ascension, the man Christ Jesus has become Lord . This is how the reign of God has arrived, according to the apostolic kerygma. The originally intended divine order for earth, with man properly situated as ruler at God’s right hand, has been accomplished in the installation of Jesus as the Son of God.
Dan G. McCartney, “Ecce Homo: The Coming of the Kingdom as the Restoration of Human Vicegerency,” Westminster Theological Journal 56 (1994): 2. McCartney qualifies this by noting that Jesus enthronement “is not just a reinstatement of the original prelapsarian order, but the original order brought to fulfillment. It is an advance over the Adamic state” (p. 2, n.5).
An examination of the Apostolic preaching bears this out. They did not simply proclaim Jesus to be the divine Son of God, but the incarnate Son of God, resurrected and exalted to the right hand of the Father as man for us. In every recorded sermon given to us by Luke in Acts, the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus as Lord occupies the apex of Gospel’s content (Acts 2: 21, 24, 32; 3:15, 22, 26; 4:2, 10, 33; 5:30; 10:40; 13: 22, 30, 34, 37; 17:18, 32; 23:6; 24:21).

All of these typological/symbolic images (son, image, right hand, firstborn, kingdom, ruler, house-builder, etc.) coalesce in the one Lord Jesus Christ, the one appointed Son of God with power. Jesus has ascended to his throne as both the Son of David and the Last Adam. He fulfilled not only the prophetic promises about a Davidic king, but also God’s plan for both Adam and Israel. He embodies , as the God-man, the Lord God’s intentions for both Israel and mankind in general. “For all the promises of God are Yes! and Amen! in him” (2 Cor. 1:20).

Although it is true that Jesus is called “my Son” by God the Father at a number of points in his life and “son of God” by others (at his conception/birth [Luke 1:32, 35; 3:35, 38]; baptism [Mt. 3:17; Lk. 3:22]; transfiguration [Mk. 9:7; Luke 9:35]; crucifixion [Mt. 27:54; Mk. 15:39]; and with reference to his resurrection [Acts 13:33-34; Rom. 1:4]), nevertheless, it is not accurate to say, as Craige does, that “the coronation of Jesus took place throughout his ministry” (Peter Craige, Psalms 1-50, [Waco, TX: Word Books, 1983], p. 69) Such a mistake appears to be based once again on the error of thinking that “Son of God” is a technical term. This time, however, unlike the systematic theologians mentioned earlier who cannot but seem to read “son of God” without thinking “second person of the Trinity,” Craige assumes that it always refers to Jesus Davidic kingship.

There are different senses, therefore, in which Jesus is called Son. He is the Son from eternity (Jn. 1:18), the Son from his conception and assumption our human nature (the Last Adam, Luke 1:35; 3:38), the Son at his baptism as he is anointed as Messiah and commissioned as the one who will first serve (Isa. 42:1), which service is consummated at his self-sacrificial death (Mk. 15:39), and finally, the Son of God with power at his resurrection, ascension, and enthronement when he is publicly invested with the fullness of Messianic authority (Ps. 2:7; Acts 13:33-34; Rom. 1:4).

By assigning the title “Son of God with power” to Jesus in Rom. 1:4 Paul designates him as the fulfillment and current bearer of Israel's servant-king role in the world. Although Israel was once gifted with all of the privileges and responsibilities of God’s son(s) (Ex. 4:22, 23; Deut. 14;1; 32:6, 18; Jer. 31:9, 19; Hos. 11:1) and in her Davidic kings this royal status was individually embodied, nevertheless, all such filial arrangements are now, with the resurrection of Christ, shown to be provisional and typological. Jesus has been appointed or installed as the “Son of God with power.”

What is even more astonishing is that Jesus does not, so to speak, hold on to his Sonship for himself. The Spirit of the “Son” is the Spirit of adoption (Gal. 4:5), so that together with the Son as the “firstborn among many brethren” (Rom. 8:29) are the sons, who are “called to belong to him” and thereby “loved by God” (Rom. 1: 6-7; Gal. 4:7) and as such are “heirs” in union with him (Rom. 8:17; Gal. 4:7). We are gifted with the privilege of sonship by grace only in union with the incarnate Son. The word "son" is used 12 times in Romans (1:3, 4, 9; 5:10; 8:3, 14, 19, 29, 32; 9:9, 26, 27), which is by far the largest number of references to Jesus sonship in any of Paul’s epistles. Moreover, the distribution of references to sonship, both Jesus’ and the Christian’s, reveal two clusters—one in Paul’s introduction, where he summarizes the basic kerygmatic content of the Gospel (Rom. 1:1-17) and the other in Romans 8 (vss. 3, 14, 19, 29, 32), where our sonship is particularly in view.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

For Real?

Just for Fun

Black or white?

French Reformed liturgical scholar Richard Paquier: "The Genevan gown, this anti-liturgical, secular vestment, which appears in the color of the shades of darkness, this clothing which is comparable to the sack cloth and ashes of mourning in the old covenant, is the negation of the right of the church to rejoice and be consoled in the presence of the heavenly Bridegroom. Perhaps for the synagogue, in its tribulation, to wear such a vestment would be the normal thing. But in modern Protestantism it is a depressing sign that we are not more aware of the nuptial joy of the Eucharist and that we do not believe in the victorious struggle Christ led against the world." (Dynamics of Worship: Foundations and Uses of Liturgy [Fortress Press, 1967], p. 142).

Check us out.

Just for the record, Paquier's book is really, really good. If you can find a copy, buy it.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Nothing But Photos This Time

We didn't have much luck this year during the two-day firearms youth season. We didn't see a single deer on Saturday.

But we did shoot off some pretty cool fireworks Friday night.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Wisdom of Ecclesiastes In Context - Part 1

This is a section from my commentary on Ecclesiates A Table in the Mist. What? You haven't read it yet? Shame on you.

Israel's Upbringing: Stage 1, Priesthood

Before we go all the way back to Adam and Eve and the beginning of the story – a move we must make eventually if we are to appreciate wisdom's role in mankind's progress toward maturity – let us begin with something fairly straightforward and easy to see. Think about the narrative of Israel's history. There are at least three fairly obvious stages in Israel's development. Think of these as stages in God's process of educating or training his people. This is one of the ways Paul encourages us to meditate on the story of God's interaction with his people Israel in the old world (Galatians 4:1-7). They were being trained or educated as God's new humanity. The three stages can be outlined as follows:
Priests → Kings → Prophets
This ordered sequence is important. As a nation covenanted to Yahweh, Israel begins her corporate life as priests. What we call the mosaic covenant, which Yahweh graciously inaugurates with Israel at Mt. Sinai, is largely concerned with regulating his people's priestly role in the world at large. A "priest" is a household servant of Yahweh. Israel is granted the privilege of drawing near to God and therefore of serving in his house (the tabernacle). I hardly need to amass proof texts to demonstrate that the Mosaic covenant and the revelation associated with that covenant largely concerns priestly and "sacrificial" regulations.

At this stage in the story of Israel she is charged with guarding and maintaining the Lord's special "house." She is granted this charge to serve the nations. What we call the Tabernacle is Yahweh's special "tent of meeting," the appointed place to which he invites his people to draw near and commune with him. This meeting place is a place of food and feasting, which is why so much of the content of the Mosaic regulations have to do with clean and unclean foods, animals that are appropriate for Yahweh's food, and the appointed times and places for such festival banquets.

As the Lord's priests his people serve as inspectors and servants at his communion table (what we call the "altar'). The special priests (Levites and the sons of Aaron) inspect, prepare, and distribute the Lord's food. I wish that our translations would make this clearer. Every animal that is brought near (the Hebrew verb is qrb, "to draw near") becomes "food" (lechem, "bread") for God. Speaking to the Aaronic priests in Leviticus 21:6, Yahweh says,
They shall be holy to their God and not profane the name of their God. For they bring near (qrb) Yahweh's fire-cooked food ('isheh), the bread (lechem) of their God.
Much more could be said about these priestly duties, of course, but this is enough to get the general thrust of Israel's priestly duties. What we must pay careful attention to now is that priestly regulations are very detailed and do not require a great deal of discernment to administer. The law (torah) is quite meticulous. To be faithful priests Israel simply had to follow the law very carefully. If an animal is brought near for the Lord's table, the priests simply had to remember God's explicit instruction and discern whether an animal was clean and unclean, blemished or unblemished, and so on.

So much of what we call "the law" or "the torah" is like this. Do this, do that, don't do this, and don't do that. Israel begins her corporate life with relatively simple, straightforward rules to follow. The same is true for the laws that regulate her social and governmental existence. Of course, it is true that for us modern readers this legal system often seems hopelessly complex. But that's only because we are so far removed from the life of Israel and the old world of animal sacrifices. As others have pointed out, however, for an Israelite to acquire expertise in these matters was not much different than the way a car mechanic today learns the "rules" that govern the replacement and repair of auto parts. Most of us would be lost until we spent the necessary hours memorizing the manuals necessary for this kind of work. And the laws governing animal sacrifice are a lot simpler than those that apply to modern car maintenance and repair.

My point is this: Israel begins her life in Yahweh's house learning the rules explicitly laid out by him for her priestly duties. She is like a child who is governed by specific "dos and don'ts" unmistakably expressed by her parents. She begins in God's house serving at his Table. All of this is not to deny that there are "deeper" dimensions to the Mosaic law. There certainly are. We will get to that in a moment. But for now simply notice that Israel's early relation to God is very childlike. She was called to obey even if she didn't fully understand. She will need to mature as she obeys God's law in order to appropriate the "wisdom" embodied in the Law.

Friday, October 26, 2007

A Trinitarian Wedding Meditation

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1Cor. 13:4-7).

What family would you identify as a model for your marriage and future household? In terms of this reading, where have you seen or where will you see the love of 1 Cor. 13 lived out? Is there a couple or a family that you would name as exemplifying the kind of life together that you would experience?

I can’t read your minds and I’m not going to ask you to tell me of whom you are thinking, but I will wager that you are setting your sights too low, way too low.

Whatever human couple or family may have come to your mind and however radiant and attractive their relationship may be, it is but a dim reflection of the fullness of love, the eternal riches of love resident in the Holy Trinity. That’s right. The Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in their shared eternal life together.

Well, I will tell you both that God himself holds the key; God himself is the key to marital happiness and fulfillment. He is the definition of, the very living embodiment of love. As the Apostle John says, "God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him" (1 John 4:16). This does not mean simply that God is nice—the dear, kind God. Reduced to this, "God is love" comes dangerously close to being innocuous and sentimental nonsense.

Rather, John means that in himself, in his own inner life, God is characterized by love. Love binds Father, Son, and Holy Spirit together. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are eternally covenanted companions. God is in himself the fullness and perfection of love, in loving and being loved, in giving and receiving. And this eternal communal existence of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as God is the ultimate model for every human social bond. Today, of course, that means your marriage.

Cornelius Plantinga has put it this way: “The precincts of heaven are occupied by more than one divine person. The unity of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is more like a marriage, or like persons bound together in a single community.”

The active movement of reciprocal love within the eternal being of God is the one ultimate source of all love in the universe. What that means for us, for you, is that the Triune God constitutes the very ground and possibility of love between human beings, not the least of which is marital love. The marriage covenant, you see, is grounded in the original covenant of love and companionship between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

But wait a minute, isn’t that like telling you that Robert and Jennifer Smith possess the secret of marital happiness and love? Robert and Jennifer Smith? That would be all well and good, but who are they? Where do they live? If you have no access to their household, to their personal relationship, what good is it to you?

You might find out where the live and go and stand in front of their house and look through the windows or even bang on the door. You could park in front of their house and try to get glimpses of them as they come outside. You might even get a listening device and try to catch bits and pieces of their conversations. A telescope to see them interact. But unless they graciously invited you into their circle of love, unless they allowed you in, you would never benefit from what they had.

Similarly, we cannot know of or experience God’s love between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit from the outside. God as he is in himself is not open to our inspection. We cannot pry into his Three-Personed being for the purpose of examining his life.

And just as the Smith’s must invite you into their family for you to know them, so in a similar way, God himself must invite us in if we are to know him as the perfect communion of love between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God himself must open up himself to us and draw us into his life of communion so that we can experience and know his covenant love.

That is exactly what has happened in time and space history as the Father loves the Son so much that he finds a bride for him that will be his eternal covenanted companion. This is the wonder of God’s love. This is what God has done for us in Christ.

Jonathan Edwards puts it well: “There was, as it were, an eternal society or family in the Godhead, in the Trinity of persons. It seems to be God’s design to admit the church into the divine family as his Son’s wife.” Jonathan Edward’s again: “The end [goal] of the creation of God was to provide a spouse for his Son Jesus Christ, that might enjoy him and on whom he might pour forth his love. . . Heaven and earth were created that the Son of God might communicate his love and goodness to a spouse.”

I need to stop here to make sure that everyone has this right. God didn’t create the world to have people to dominate and manipulate. To command and control. He created the world and humanity to share his glory, to turn his eternal love outward on humanity and to bring us into the circle of his blessed fellowship.

Your life in the covenant of marriage must model that eternal covenant of love between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as it has been revealed, manifest, uncovered for us in Jesus Christ.

Now, you may be thinking, what? He’s talking about the Trinity at our wedding? Isn’t that just some abstract, confusing ecclesiastical doctrine invented to confound simple people about the nature of God? Shouldn’t the pastor just give some pointers on how to act as husband and wife and get on with it. Some practical "how to" advice. Absolutely not!

Have you ever noticed that whenever the Apostle Paul addresses a very practical problem in one of his churches, he doesn’t offer some cute emotional story or merely quote or construct some catchy religious aphorism, rather he gets very theological.

My favorite example of this is the church at Philippi. Read Philippians 2:3-7. It was because Jesus was God that he humbled himself. It was because he was in very nature God that he emptied himself. This is God's mode of life as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They live together is self-giving humility and love.

This, then, is your God! This is the one in whose image you have been created. Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. . . in the image of God he created them, male and female, he created them. This is the image that you are being renewed in. The likeness of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God is love.

As Christians, we do not look primarily to an abstract impersonal idea or set of ideas for our model. We are imagers of God. We have been made to resemble God. We are to actively seek to conform ourselves as creatures to his perfect character. “Be ye holy as I am holy”

Another way to put this is that our flawless exemplar is the Person(s) of God himself, especially the Father and the Son! When we ask what does it mean to love, how can I know what it means to love, we, as Christians (who bear the name of Christ) answer: It means to imitate the Lord, Jesus Christ.

1 John 3:16, “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” John 15:12 "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

Without this context, this list in 1 Cor. 13 degenerates into pious platitudes, religious mush. So substitute the word “Christ” for the noun “love” in this list and you make explicit Paul’s reason for using this literary device called personification. “Jesus Christ suffers long, Christ shows kindness, Jesus does not envy. . . .”

Here then is a positive, healthy ideal towards which to strive. Here in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 is a vivid picture of purity and spiritual health.

You know we might have settled this afternoon a fast-food, sugar-high from cute little aphorisms and sentimental sayings about marriage. Or we could have gotten a temporary emotional buzz from the current fad in psychological marital advice and techniques. But that kind of thing will never satisfy your need for lasting nourishment as a couple. As you begin your life together, do not settle for such junk food.

You’ve got something more nourishing. Something that will transform you through and through. Let me suggest to you that thinking, reflecting, meditating on your own participation in the covenantal love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as husband and wife is worth more than whatever techniques or marital slogans or psychological advice you can find in the millions of how-to-books on marriage.

As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:18, "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord."

If you have experienced the love of God in Christ, if your marriage is going to be rooted and grounded in love, then you will have to this life-long goal of making progress towards understanding what is the width and length and depth and height of the love of God in Christ which surpasses human comprehension.

By means of the marriage covenant God permits you both to taste something of the inexpressible bliss of the personal intimacy and companionship of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

You are called upon this afternoon to begin a life of love towards one another just as God is love.

"For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height – to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God" (Eph. 3:14-19). Amen.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

New Images

I haven't been behind the viewfinder of my camera for months. This past Saturday our church held it's annual Harvest Party and I had some time to capture some images. You can find them all here.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Not Too Smart

Bad Language Warning! Watch it with the volume turned off if you'd rather not hear some crude cussing.

And what's the deal with the propellor caps and big lollipops?

This is my Brother's World

For many the Christian world view is relatively simple.

1. God created the world and man.
2. Man was created to obey God.
3. Man disobeyed and so God justly punished him.
4. But God mercifully decided to send his Son into the world to save man.
5. The Son then became man at the appropriate time for man's salvation.
6. Now those who trust the Son can go to heaven when they die.

For some #4-6 are important to understand for the purposes of attaining eternal life. But when Christians think about and interact with their culture, it is sufficient to impress upon people the fact that the world and man have been created by God and things would go better for everyone if we heeded his moral law. Getting people to confess the existence of a "Creator" is what really matters.

I'm overstating this, of course. But only a little bit. We tend to read Genesis one with deistic results. Even though the text talks explicitly about the participation of the Spirit in creation and on the sixth day the Creator says, "Let us make man in our image," nevertheless, we resist reading the creation account with trinitarian eyes.

But according to the inspired commentary given to us in the New Testament, the Son and Spirit do not begin their association with the world and humanity only after the fall. The eternal Son was intimately involved with creation from the start. More than that even, the Son was the reason God the Father created the world in the first place. The Father created the world as a gift for his Son. He created humanity to be the Son's brother, or if we think about humanity as whole as feminine, then we were created to be the Son's wife.

Now, there's all sorts of things to say about this. But I'll settle for a few brief comments.

First, according to the New Testament, the eternal Son was/is the original Image of God the Father (2 Cor. 4:1-6; Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:2-3; ). Actually, "image" is just another way of saying "son" (see Gen. 5:2 or Luke 3:38). Adam was a created son. Jesus was the eternal Son. The model or archetype for Adam was the original Image, the eternal Son. In other words, humanity was made to be like the eternal Son. There was a special affinity between the Son and humanity, an affinity which makes the Son's incarnation fitting.

Second, the NT makes is abundantly clear that the Son was a participant in the work of creation. When John tells us that "all things were made through him" (that is the Word) and apart from him nothing was made (John 1:3), he is drawing out the full meaning of the narrative of Genesis one. God fashioned the world by speaking, as we here in Psalm 33:6, "By the word of Yahweh the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth." The Son/Word was a divine agent of creation, according to Col. 1:16, 1 Cor. 8:6, Eph. 3:9, and Heb. 1:2.

Third, more than that, however, according to the inspired commentary in the NT, the Son not only participated in the act of creation but he was the reason for creation. It is not enough to say that he was there and acted with the Father and the Spirit during the process of creation. The astonishing revelation in the NT is that "all things were created for him" (Col. 1:16). God the Father created all things FOR the Son. Let's be clear about this. Even before the fall, God the Father intended the created world to be for his Son. The created world was intended to be a gift for his Son.

This has huge implications for the way we present the Christian world view. We are not being faithful to the nature and purpose of created reality if we are content to talk simply about a generic God creating the world. It's much more complex than that. And the complexity introduces richness into the vision. Our vision is not like Islam's. The world is related to God in richly complex ways because God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This rich trinitarian vision (which I've not really even begun to unpack) has great evangelistic potential, IMHO.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Son of God - Part VIII

Continued from Part VII

The Davidic Seed as Royal Son: Psalm 2:6-9

What I will discuss in this post is crucial for understanding not only Romans 1:4 but the biblical theology of Jesus' Sonship in the New Testament.

In Psalm 2 we not only discover many of the same images from 2 Sam. 7, but the vision is greatly enriched. The Psalm is explicitly tied to 2 Samuel 7 by the Psalmist’s description of the decree of Yahweh in v. 7. A comparison of 2 Sam. 7:14 and Psalm 2:7 shows the connection:

"I will tell of the decree: Yahweh said to me, 'You are my son; today I have begotten you.'" (Psalm 2:7)
"I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son" (2 Sam. 7:14)

The author of Hebrews makes the connection explicit, quoting both passages side by side: “For to which of the angels did He ever say: ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You’? And again: ‘I will be to Him a Father, And He shall be to Me a Son’? (Heb. 1:5).

What we see, therefore in Psalm 2 is the conceptual connections we noted earlier in 2 Sam. 7 made explicit and even enlarged. “My Son” is “My king” (Ps. 2:6). Sonship entitles one to rule (Ps. 2:9). The establishment of Yahweh’s rule will be accomplished by means of the Son’s quelling of his enemies’ rebellious uprising (2:1-3), either by the exercise of his wrath or by the humble submission of the enemies (2:10-12).

And again, we have the reign of Yahweh coordinated and implemented by the Son, so that by serving the Son one serves Yahweh (2:11-12). Yahweh is enthroned in heaven (2:4), but he mediates his rule by means of his Son, who is installed “on Zion, my holy hill” (2:6). When the Son of David rules on Zion, the reign of Yahweh is properly on earth (1 Chron. 28:5; 29:23; 2 Chron. 9:8).

The Psalmist's mention of Zion and Yahweh’s holy mountain is one example of the way he enlarges upon, or better, unpacks the relational/symbolic connections associated with the Davidic Son. Now we learn that the Son as King is installed on Zion, Yahweh’s holy mountain). Of course, we knew from 1 Kings 7:1 and 9:10 that David’s son, Solomon, not only constructed a house/palace for Yahweh, but he also built a palace for himself adjacent to the Yahweh’s temple. These are often mentioned in tandem (e.g. 2 Kings 23:14), because they were built side by side.

The temple of Yahweh contained the ark of God which was his “footstool” (1 Chron. 28:2; Ps. 99:5; Lam. 2:1). He reigns from heaven but his presence or “dwelling place” is situated at his footstool, the ark in the temple (Ps. 132:7; Acts 7:49). Solomon’s house/palace also had a throne with a “golden” footstool (remember ark was covered with gold, 1 Chron. 28:18; Heb. 9:4) as well as two guardian lions which were poised over the footstool on the arm rests (2 Chron. 9:18), calling to mind the two Cherubim guardians covering the ark. All of this not only suggests once again the close connection between Yahweh’s house/throne and the Royal son of David’s, but the architectural imagery was no doubt striking in its symbolism.

Yahweh’s heavenly throne’s footstool terminated in his earthly temple on Mt. Zion and right next to it on that same holy mountain was his son’s palace and throne. Architecturally, then, the son reigned at the right hand of Yahweh. Thus, when the old Mosaic symbolic world of the tabernacle was transfigured into the Davidic covenantal arrangement with the permanent, stone temple at its center, the new covenantal polity was made visible in the symbolic architecture of Yahweh’s temple and beside it the palace of the Davidic king.

The son of David, then, is the son of Yahweh’s right hand, and as such he is ruler (see Psalm 80:14, 17, where the “son” is the man at God’s right hand, who has been “strengthened ” or “raised up”; cf. Jer. 22:24). The right hand is the position of power and rule (Ex. 15:6, 12; Ps. 20:6, and the many references in the Psalms to the security and deliverance found in the “right hand” of Yahweh). We might understand better now why Psalm 110 is associated with Psalm 2 in the minds of the Apostles as prophetic of the resurrection and enthronement of Jesus (Mark 16:19; Acts 22:33. 34; 5:33; 7:55; Eph. 1:20; Col. 3:1; Heb. 1:3, 13; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; 1 Pet. 3:22), and why even Jesus himself understood his coming exaltation as being a positioning at the right hand of his Father (Matt. 26:64; Mk. 14:62; Luke 22:26).

Moreover, the son at God’s right hand, is the son that will inherit the Father’s blessing (Gen. 48:13, 14, 17, 18, “And Joseph said to his father, “Not so, my father; for this one is the first-born; put your right hand upon his head”). Which means that the Davidic son is also inheritor, according to Ps. 2:8 (“Ask of me, and I will me the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession”). Both of these Hebrew words are associated with “inheritance”—the first typically with land and the second also with land, but sometimes with persons (eg. Ps. 37:18; 74:2; 79:1; Isa. 19:25; Ez. 36:12; 44:28; Micah 7:14, 18) and other more intangible “possessions” like blessings, the family or tribal name, etc (Gen. 31:14; Num. 18:21-26; Ps. 127:3). In Psalm 2 the son is promised “the nations” and “the ends of the earth” for his inherited possession.

Furthermore, in context these nations are the foreign powers aligned against Yahweh and his “anointed one” (Ps. 2:1-5). A more comprehensive vision can hardly be conceived. The Royal son gets all the nations and every square inch of land on earth. Such a conception of world dominion (Ps. 18:43-47; 72:8-11; 89:25), although not fully achieved by any Judahite king, is nevertheless not simply exaggeration, but remained “hidden” and prophetic of the reign of the Greater Son of David. Not surprisingly, Paul references the mission of the appointed Son of God as bringing about “the obedience of faith among all the nations/Gentiles” (Rom. 1:5), precisely what is said to be promised to the Son as his inheritance upon his enthronement in Psalm 2:8 (“the nations for your inheritance”). In the New Testament, the Son/Image of God is one who has the rights and inheritance of the Firstborn (Ex. 4:22; Ps. 89:27; Rom. 8:29; Col. 1:15-20; Heb. 12:23; Rev. 1:5).

Mention of the world-wide extent of the son of David’s rule also ties in with the original mandate and promise given to Adam, the son of God. Whatever else Adam’s being made in the “image and likeness” of God entailed, according to the context of Genesis 1:26, it involved “ruling” over all the earth. It is given to Adam as a mandate: “Let us make man in our image and let them rule over the. . . earth ” (1:26) and “Rule over the fish. . .” (1:28). In addition, we learn from Genesis 5:3 and Luke 3:38 that being an image-bearer is linked to sonship. Man as the image of God means man is a son of God. The New Testament makes this clear when it brings the terms “son” and “image” together when it describes Christ. And as we have seen, one function of being a son/image of God was dominion or ruling. Adam was created to rule over the entire earth as God’s son, his vicegerent. This was not to happen. Man fell.

What does this have to do with the Son of David? The two are connected by the phrases “the knowledge of good and evil” (Gen. 2:9, 17; 3:5) and “knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:5). The phrase is not used very often in the Old Testament. In Deut. 1:39, 2 Sam. 19:35, and Isa. 7:15, 16 when one lacks the knowledge of good and evil it is evidence of childhood and immaturity, of the lack of discernment and inability to govern wisely. In 2 Sam. 19:35 Samuel complains that because he is 80 years old he can no longer “know good and evil.” Old age makes one unfit for the discernment required for governing. All these references so far have concerned the ability to adjudicate and discern right from wrong, something essential for those who rule. The phrase, then, refers to what is foundational to governing, the competence to “judge between good and evil.” This would suggest that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was associated with mature judgment and rule. Satan’s challenge to Adam and Eve—that they upon eating from the tree they would be “like gods” (elohim) is not entirely inaccurate since the title is often used in the Old Testament to refer to human rulers/judges (Ex. 21:6; 22:8, 9, 28; Ps. 58:1; Ps. 82: 6-7; cf. Jn. 10:34). The knowledge of good and evil is what a son needs to rule. According to 1 Kings 3:9 it is precisely what David’s son, Solomon, asks for when given the chance to request anything of Yahweh:
Give to your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people,
that I may know good and evil,
for who is able to rule this your great people?
Solomon does not assume that he already possesses this discernment, but ask Yahweh to gift him with it. Once God grants Solomon’s appropriate, kingly request we immediately see him exercise his judicial wisdom (3:28). Solomon has been gifted with what Adam impatiently grasped for in Genesis 3. As the new son/image of Yahweh, he has been granted the wise discernment (“the knowledge of good and evil”) necessary to rule over men.

Moreover, Solomon is presented as an Adamic king in the Bible. Just as Adam named the animals (Gen. 2:19-20) so also Solomon gained wisdom as he investigated the creation. “Also he spoke of trees, from the cedar tree of Lebanon even to the hyssop that springs out of the wall; he spoke also of animals, of birds, of creeping things, and of fish” (1 Kings 4:33). The kingship of Solomon, in other words, was a fulfilment not only of the promises made to Abraham and Israel, but of God’s commission to Adam as well. Just so, Solomon, the son of David—indeed, as we have seen, son of Yahweh’s—becomes the typological model for the Greater Son of David’s rule as the Second Adam.

Jesus is appointed Son of God with power when he is gifted with ruling over all of creation as man. “He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born over all creation” (Col. 1:15). In fact, the scope of Jesus dominion is much greater than Solomon’s. It embraces the entire creation. Another reference to Jesus as the resurrected Lord who rules over all as the “second man” or Adam is 1 Cor. 15:20-57. This passage, of course, has christological and soteriological significance that goes well beyond our narrow concerns here; nevertheless, royal sonship imagery is not peripheral to Paul’s purpose (note the references to Christ’s kingdom, 1 Cor. 15:24; his reign, 15:25; the vanquishing of his enemies, 15:27 [Ps. 110:1]; and the references to Jesus as the “last Adam,” 15:45-49, whose “image” we shall all bear when we are “raised in power” like he has been, 15:43, 49).

Saturday, October 20, 2007

So what?

So J. K. Rowling thinks Dumbledore is gay. As it's being reported, she "outed him" Friday night at Carnegie Hall in New York.

But what difference does this make? None whatsoever. First, because Dumbledore's homosexuality remained in the author's mind and never shows up in the text itself. You can go back and read the novels and look for signs, but you'll find nothing even close to explicit. It's not part of the story line.

Second, as a friend of mine has noted, why not also out Neville Longbottom? Or Snape? Or MadEye Moody? Or Dobby? Or anyone else for that matter who doesn't have a girlfriend or a wife in the novels? Whatever thoughts Rowling may have had in her mind about a character, what the reader must pay attention to is the text of the story. Rowling may reveal one day that all the magical powers possessed by the witches and wizards of her novels' world were actually gifts given to certain humans by extraterrestrials when they visited to help the Egyptians build the pyramids. But this never shows up in the texts of her novels, so it is irrelevant. It makes no difference whatsoever in the actual story line.

Authorial intent is overrated. The text has it's own life.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Books & Movies

A few days ago I began to read, actually listen to Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild, the story of Chistopher McCandless's two-year "walk about" that ended in his death in 1992. I started it because a friend recommended it. I had no idea that they were making it into a movie. Last night as we were driving back from Taco Bell I saw the title on one of the local movie theater's placard.

I don't know. Nosing around the movie's web site makes me suspicious. It looks like they've taken some liberties with the story. And Sean Penn wrote the screenplay and directed the movie. Aach.

Interestingly, just after I finished The Kite Runner a few weeks ago I saw that it too was about to be released as a movie. I'm not sure I connected with The Kite Runner. It required me to suspend disbelief at too many key junctures. After a while, I just finished it because I don't like to start a book and then set it aside unless it's really bad. The Kite Runner is not really bad. It's not really even bad. Just not my kind of novel. I haven't looked, but I suspect it was one of Oprah's picks. It's that kind of book. Maybe the movie will be better.

George Bush

This is hilarious. This guy is good.

Unbelievable PR Jujitsu

The top bid is now up over 2 million dollars!

What a hoot! And great news for the families of fallen Marines!

The Son of God - Part VII

Continued from Part VI

The Davidic Seed as Royal Son: 1 Sam. 7:13-16

I've have already noted in my brief survey of the OT above a connection between ruling and sonship (Job 1:6; 2:1; Ps. 89:26-27). The Davidic Covenant makes that association explicit. The relevant passages are 2 Sam. 7:13-16, Ps. 2:1-12, Psalm 89:26-27.

2 Samuel 7 begins with the historical assessment that the king (David) dwelt securely in his house/palace because Yahweh has given him rest from all his enemies. David, however, feels uneasy about this and tells Nathan the prophet, “See now, I dwell in a house/palace of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent” (7:2). Nathan advises David to do all that is in his heart since Yahweh is with him. But the word of Yahweh comes to David in a dream instructing David that he is not the one to build the house. Rather, Yahweh will build David a house/palace through his seed (7:12), which is explained as “I will establish his kingdom." Furthermore, it will be the seed/son of David who will build the house/palace for the Name of Yahweh (v. 13) and Yahweh will thereby establish “the throne of his kingdom forever” (7:13b).

All of this house-building and kingdom/throne-establishing for the “seed” of David is then summarized as “I will be his father, and he will be my son” (7:14a; cf. Heb. 1:8, “about the Son he says, ‘Your throne. . .”; 3:6, “But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house.”). Thus, it is the seed as son whose throne and house/kingdom will be established forever (7:16).

Significantly, since earlier in Yahweh’s recounting of the history of his presence with Israel (7:5-11a), his central concern seems to have been to remind David that he has indeed “dwelt” and been “with” his people (7:9) even if it was by means of a mobile tabernacle (7:7) and rotating judges (7:11), from now on, however, his Name and presence will be mediated through the throne of his newly established “house” of David’s son. This is why, even though it is occupied by human rulers, the Davidic throne can be identified with the royal throne of Yahweh himself (1 Chron. 28:5; 29:23; 2 Chron. 9:8). When the son of David rules on earth, the reign of Yahweh is properly on earth.

There are many interesting details related to the interpretation of 2 Sam. 7:1-16 that we cannot pursue here. What we should note for our purposes is that many of the motifs that are central to Old Testament redemptive history—those dealing with kingship, kingdom, throne, house, house-building, seed, rest from enemies, and the covenantal promise that Yahweh will “be with” his people—these are all correlated here to the prophetic promise to David that his “seed” would be given the full rights of Sonship by Yahweh his Father. Yahweh promised to elevate David’s seed to reign upon the throne as son, thereby establishing both his and David’s house and kingdom forever.

Even though provision is made by Yahweh for sinful human “sons” of David who would need to be “punished with the rod” when they misuse their new exalted status (7:14b), clearly the reader’s expectations are heightened by Yahweh’s use of front-end loaded words like “seed” and “kingdom” that hearken back to central covenantal promises of the past (Gen. 3:15; 9:9; 12:7; 13:15-16; 17:7-12; 22:17-18) as well language that cannot but point toward some definitive future fulfillment. The same can be said for certain passages from the prophets, such as Isaiah 9, which is connected with the promise of 2 Sam. 7:12-16 that David’s offspring/son will reign on his throne and establish his kingdom: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called ‘Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’” (Isa. 9:6)

There is no reason to think that an Israelite reading these passages before there was access to the Holy Spirit-inspired apostolic interpretation would be able to decipher precisely how this would all work out (1 Pet. 1:10-12), but he surely would be encouraged that somehow, sometime in the future, one of David’s sons, a seed from his own body (7:12), would establish Yahweh’s kingdom forever. We, of course, who have the benefit of hind-sight and the infallible apostolic witness know that these promises were indeed fulfilled when God raised up Jesus, the seed of David, to reign over a new house and kingdom forever (Acts 2:29-36; 13:32-41; 15:16; 2 Tim. 2:8; Heb. 1:2, 5, 8; 2: 6:3:6; 4:14; 5:5, 8; Rev. 3:7; 5:5; 22:16; etc.).

This is what Romans 1:3-4 is all about.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Savior of the World

What does 1 Tim. 4:10 mean? This is not everything that it means, but it is a significant part that is often overlooked—from my 2007 Good Friday sermon notes:

1. If Jesus had not died, the world would not have been saved. Because Jesus died the world was indeed delivered. He died so that you might live. Not merely in some vague spiritual sense. But you are alive right now and not dead, because Jesus died. That's true for everybody!

Almost 2000 years of human history all because Jesus died and rose again.

John 3.17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

John 4.42 They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”

I Tim. 4:10, ". . . because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe."

1 John 2.2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

Parallel with Genesis 8 and 9. The first thing Noah does when he gets off the ark is offer up some of all of the clean animals and clean birds. Based on THAT sacrifice, AFTER he smells the pleasing aroma, Yahweh promises that he would never again curse the ground! The grace proffered to all men is not some generalized “common grace” but God’s changed attitude founded on the covenantal sacrifice of Noah. So also with Christ's death on the cross. God delivered the world from destruction and preserves the entire cosmos because of the cross of Jesus. Common grace is not grace that is administered apart from, or along side of the cross. Common grace is the grace of God in Christ.

2. If Jesus had not died, pagan culture and life would not have been replaced. The old world would never have been changed.

Let's just say, for the sake of the argument, that the world and human history would have continued, had Jesus not died. What would it be like? This is what it means when the Bible says that by his death Jesus destroyed the work of Satan. What was destroyed was the archaic, pre-Christian way of organizing human life - Paganism.

The Ruler of the kingdoms of the world (Matt. 4) was defeated on the cross. His demons were the gods of ancient world (1 Cor. 8). The demonic activity was designed to keep humanity in a perpetual state of adolescent immaturity. So the wars and sexual perversion so prominent in ancient cultures.

Acts 26.15 And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness. . . I am sending you to the Gentiles, to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins

Heb. 2:14-15, "that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.Rev. 20.2 And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years,Paul says that before Jesus' work "death reigned" (Rom. 5)

Life would have been very different. LIFE, not just our inner religious sensibilities. We take for granted a way of life with one another that we often think is just common sense. This is the "natural" way for people to live together. And we expect to be afforded common courtesies and treated with humane respect by others as if these were rooted in the natural order of things and have nothing to do with Jesus or the cross. Wrong. This is the result of Christ's death and transformation of the world. Jesus saved the world and changed human history.

Battle star Galactica - human culture that developed in another star system with an odd polytheistic religious system. One of the characters in a recent episode made a speech that simply couldn't have been made in such a culture because it presupposed the cross and the transformation of human culture that has come about in the West because of the cross.

If Jesus had not died on the cross there would have been no deliverance from the horror of cultures not founded on or informed by the Christian understanding of mercy and justice. As disappointing as things can get in Christian countries, that is nothing compared to what might have been had Jesus not died.

These are just raw notes. Download the whole sermon if you want a fuller explanation (8.6 MB mp3 file).


The way modern "tongues" are used today by many Christians is not really analogous to the function of glossalalia in the Apostolic church. The Apostolic gift of tongues has no revelance in the church today. The reason is that the Spirit is no longer gifting people to speak in non-Hebraic languages in order to instruct the ethnoi (Acts 2), confirm his gifts to them (Acts 10, etc.), or manifest his judgment against the Jews by confronting them with foreign tongues/languages (Deut. 28:49; 32:19-22; Isa. 28:11, 12; 66:18; 1 Cor. 14:20-25). Carefully consider that string of texts, beginning with Deut. 28. These are the passages that make sense of what is happening in the Apostolic age as God deals with unbelieving Jews. He speaks to them in foreign, non-Hebrew "tongues." It's a judgment and a means of provoking them to jealousy.

But today the Jew-Gentile division is gone. The Bible has been completed and written in tongues (Greek). The Apostolic phenomenon of tongues have ceased. The need for the gift to speak miraculously in non-Hebrew tongues is not needed. There may be an anology between tongues and other forms of ministerial communication (preaching, teaching), but the analogy between what is called modern "tongues" and the NT gift is tenuous at best.

One has to come to grips with the purpose of tongues at the inauguration of the New Covenant era. Tongues are languages, more precisely, non-Hebrew languages. They were miraculously given to provoke the unbelieving Jews to jealously, according to explicit Old Testament prophesies (1 Cor. 14:20ff.; Deut. 28:49; 32:19-22; Isa. 28:11, 12; 66:18). One again, that list of passages.

Have you ever asked: Why were tongues so prominent in the church at Corinth? They seem to be the only community that has such an interest in tongues, where tongues have broken out with such publicity. It's because the church met right next door to the synagogue (Acts 18:7)! The "unbelievers" in 1 Cor. 14:22 are the stiff-necked Jews, not simply generic non-Christians. The context of Isa. 28, which Paul quotes in 1 Cor. 14, makes that pretty clear. Lot's of provocation going on there in Corinth! If that is the case, then perhaps one can see how tongues (=miraculously given non-Hebrew utterances) serve no purpose today. During the transition period (mainly from 30-70 AD, but also a bit beyond that) when God was forming a new international church and the unbelieving Jews were resisting that (as they did all through the Apostolic age), God provoked them to jealousy with these foreign tongues/languages. Every time anyone spoke in tongues in the book of Acts, for example, the Jews are in view somehow.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Son of God - Part VI

Continued from Part V

The Old Testament Background to Romans 1:4

Having attended to the immediate context of Rom. 1:4, we have only arrived at a very sketchy understanding of what Paul meant by Jesus’ post-resurrection appointment as the Son of God with power. Any explanation of the significance of the title “Son of God” in Rom. 1:4 cannot possibly be complete without a discussion of the Old Testament prophetic/typological foundation. The Gospel of God that Paul has summarized here in Rom. 1:3-4 is “the Gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures.”

“Through his prophets” ought not to be limited to a particular section of the Old Testament, as if Paul was simply referring to the writing prophets of the latter monarchy. Rather, Paul doubtless designates the entire Old Testament corpus as penned by “prophets” (see Paul’s use of the oJ no/moß as prophetic of the Gospel in Rom. 3:21, 31; 8:4; cf. Heb. 1:1; 1 Pet. 1:10).

Furthermore, by describing the Son’s coming into the word as "of the seed of David," Paul invites us to consider the typological /prophetic links between the Davidic kingship and Jesus appointment as Son of God with power.

And finally, by concluding with the words "Jesus Christ, our Lord," which follow immediately after Jesus’ designation as the Son of God with power, and seem to be placed in apposition to that royal title, Paul concludes his explication of the Gospel by alluding to the common confession of the apostolic church—a confession in which each word savors of profound Old Covenant associations. The Son of God is the Greater Joshua, the Anointed One who now reigns as Lord for us.

Sonship is not a discrete concept or relation in the Scriptures. It is connected with other similar ideas, names, relations, and actions such as father, image, inheritance, maturity, firstborn, paternal intimacy and love, blessing, right hand, house-building, ruling, kingship, Lordship, anointing, Spirit, temple/palace, priest, throne, authority, power, vindication, victory, wisdom, servant, service, and more. As one moves further from the center of the web, the connections attenuate somewhat. Nevertheless, the web will not hold together without these systemic conceptual dependencies. More specifically, one will not understand the concept or relation of sonship without the help of these other attendant concepts. Even though each separate image is profoundly related to the others, we will have to start somewhere and move through these Old Testament images and concepts one by one. It will be best to move from the more obvious to the not so obvious and provocative.

First, there is no evidence that either the singular “son of God” or the plural “sons of God” or “my son” (spoken by God) are used in the Old Testament with anything like technical precision. Sometimes angels are called “sons of Elohim” (Job 1:6; 2:1; Ps. 89:6; Deut. 32:8 ; Daniel 3:25), a designation which is probably evidence of the connection between the concept of sonship and ruling. The angels in Job are God’s advisors and governors. The “heavenly beings” called “sons of God” in Psalm 89:6 are rulers like, but lower than, Yahweh. They anticipate Psalm 89:27 where David cries out to Yahweh as Father, and Yahweh in turn will “make” or “appoint” him (cf. 1 Sam. 12:13; 1 Kg. 1:48; 1 Chron. 12:9) “the first-born, the highest of the kings of the earth.” One should notice here the links between sonship, ruling, and firstborn status, conceptual connections that are important for understanding the Davidic covenant and Jesus’ appointment as the Son of God (Rom. 1:4) and Firstborn Ruler over the kings of the earth (Rev. 1:5). But I digress.

The phrase “sons of God” may also apply to the people of God, and there are good reasons for thinking that this is the meaning in Genesis 6:2 and 4 (the godly line of Seth as opposed to the apostate line of Cain). This usage may be in the background when the appellation “my son” is given to the nation of Israel by Yahweh (Ex. 4:22-23). Although the favor and love of Yahweh as Father may be dominant in these cases, here again we might detect a connection between the privilege of firstborn status and Israel’s sonship, which implies the right to rule and not be enslaved in Egypt. The term primarily designates that Israel has been graced with a special, close filial relation to Yahweh (Deut. 14:1; 32:6, 18; Jer. 31:9, 19; Hos. 11:1, 10). Some commentators have applied this usage to Rom. 1:4, seeing in God’s appointment of Jesus as the Son of God evidence that he is now the true Israel, the eschatological fulfillment of Old Covenant Israel’s typological significance.

Second, as is evident from the brief survey above, although sonship as a distinctive concept and relation does not originate at the inauguration of the Davidic covenant, it arguably does attain its most prominent place in Old Covenant redemptive history in the revelation associated with David and the era of the kingdom. The Davidic son has both the favor and authority of his divine Father. As we discovered in our analysis of Romans 1:1-4, Paul himself makes the Davidic connection with his reference to the Son being born” a descendent of David” (Rom. 1:3). In other New Testament passages Paul (especially the Lukan account of Paul’s preaching, Acts 13:22-23; 32-34; but see also 2 Tim. 2:8) and others link Jesus as exalted Son of God with certain key Old Testament passages pertaining to the Davidic covenant (Matt. 1:1; 20:30-31; 21:9, 15; Luke 1:27, 32, 69; 2:4; 3:23-41; Acts 2:30; Heb. 1:5; Rev. 5:5; 22:16). Therefore, the Davidic covenant seems like an appropriate place to begin our discussion of sonship in the Old Covenant.

We'll move on to sonship in the Davidic covenant next time.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Academic Chicanery With Deadly Results

Few things are more demonstrative of the sad state of affairs of modern academia than the increasingly fictionalized portrayals of the founders of the two largest religions in the world: Jesus and Mohammad. Though the same dubious methods are used for both — ignore the most historically valid texts and documents, build ponderous theories atop evidence of the most tenuous kind — the goals are markedly different. In academia today, we find Jesus, far from the Son of God, portrayed at once as a wandering “magician” and a hippie-like philanderer inclined to homosexuality. Mohammad, whom the most authentic Muslim sources portray as, among other things, a warlord who had entire tribes executed and plundered, their women herded into harems, their children sold into slavery, appears as a peaceful and altruistic ruler whose governance ushered in, among other improvements, a sort of seventh-century “feminism.”

Read Raymond Ibrahim's entire essay here.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Will Work For Food

This guy really meant it.

Or he's a hunter whose license has been revoked.

Man, that doe has got to be heavy!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

The Son of God - Part V

Continued from Part IV

In the last post I offered the first two of five arguments against the "two-natures" interpretation of Romans 1:4. The first was my observation that for many commentators any other interpretation of Romans 1:4 might open the door to Adoptionist or Arian theological sympathizers. The second argument was that translating 'orizo as "declare" or "manifest," although possible, does not get at the root meaning of the word. Translating this as "appoint" should not be abandoned by orthodox commentators and theologians simply because it threatens to be theologically suspect or troublesome.

Third, I will discuss in later posts the rich web of associations and images connected with the concept of sonship in the Old and New Testaments, but for now it ought to be enough to recognize that the meaning of the designation “Son” even when applied to Jesus cannot be determined before the immediate context is consulted. Even in the space of two verses Paul uses "son" in two different, but not unrelated ways. "Son" occurs twice in verses 3-4: once at the head of the peri clause in verse 3, and then again in verse 4. The gospel is “from” and “about God” but it is further marked off as the "gospel of/concerning his son" (v. 3).

As Douglas Moo observes, this assertion in verse 3—that God’s son “has come” or “was born”—assumes the pre-existence of the Son. There are other passages from Romans (8:2, 32) and in the New Testament that also refer to the mystery of Jesus’ pre-incarnate life as the Son of the Father (Heb. 1:2; 1 Cor. 8:6; Gal. 4:4; Phil. 2:6ff.; Col. 1:13, 16-17; John 3:17; 1 John 4:10). It was fitting for him to become the incarnate Son because he was (or is) the eternal Son/Image of the Father (see Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, The True Image: The Origin and Destiny of Man in Christ [Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1989], pp. 213-223). John chapter 1 describes the coming of the Word into the world as the manifestation of the glory of eternal Son of the Father (John 1:14), the “only begotten” or “unique” God who is in the bosom of the Father. John evidently understands Jesus’ Sonship to imply a state of existence that refers beyond temporality (John 8:58; 12:41).

Fourthly, in Romans 1:2-4, there is evidence of an historical or linear movement: the eternal Son becomes a descendent of David according to the flesh and then subsequently, upon his resurrection, is appointed as the Son of God with power. Apparently, then, he was ontologically the Son of God even before he became man in the economy of salvation. The “sending” spoken of in John 3:17 and Gal. 4:4 and implied in Rom. 1:3 cannot merely refer to a “prophetic sending” as some have argued, but presuppose pre-existence as the starting point of Jesus’ mission. So let's just clear the air right now: I'm not denying the eternal sonship of Jesus.

If, as I will argue, “Son of God” has a “theocratic” meaning in verse 4, then Paul adds something to his earlier use of "son." Just as the assertion that the Son “became of the seed of David” implies that the Son came into a new mode of existence, so to speak, kata sarx, so also with the resurrection, the eternal Son as man has been appointed the “Son of God with power” according to the Spirit of holiness. This comparison between the Son’s existence kata sarx and kata pnuema does not contrast his outward or external physical life with his internal, Spirit-perfected vitality, which then qualifies him to be the Son of God in power. Nor, as we have seen, does the contrast distinguish between the human and divine natures of Jesus.

Rather, the contrast between sarx and pneuma “is part of Paul’s larger salvation-historical framework, in which two “aeon’s” or eras are set over against one another: the old era dominated by sin, death, and the flesh, and the new era, characterized by righteousness, life, and the eschatological gift of the Holy Spirit” (Douglas Moo, The Epistle to the Romans [Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1996], p. 50). This essay is not the place for an extended discussion of Paul’s eschatological use of the sarx-pneuma contrast. Nevertheless, as a redemptive-historical contrast it supports the interpretation that we have been arguing for here—that Jesus was appointed by the Father as the Son of God with power upon his resurrection from the dead.

Fifth, Paul says that the incarnate Son has been “appointed Son-of-God-with-power” or possibly “Son-of-God-in-power.” I understand "in power" to modify "son of God" (RSV) and not the verb "to appoint" (NASB; NIV). What we have here, then, is a clear distinction between the eternal Son’s assumption of human nature ("who was descended from David according to the flesh", v. 3), indeed his entrance into the “old age” of dominated by sin and death, and his post-resurrection appointment as “Son of God with power” Douglas Moo explains:
What Paul is claiming, then, is that the preexistent Son, who entered into human experience as the promised Messiah, was appointed on the basis of (or, perhaps, at the time of) the resurrection to a new and more powerful position in relation to the world. By virtue of his obedience to the will of the Father (cf. Phi. 2:6-11) and because of the eschatological revelation of God’s saving power in the gospel (1:1, 16), the Son attains a new, exalted status as “Lord” (cf. V. 4b). Son of God from eternity, he becomes Son of God “in power” . . . . the transition from v. 3 to v. 4, then, is not a transition from a human messiah to a divine Son of God (adoptionism) but from the Son as Messiah to the Son as both Messiah and powerful, reigning Lord (Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, pp. 48-49).

Friday, October 5, 2007

Summer Concert

This summer we had Jamie Soles come to our church to do a little concert for the kids (and adults!). Here's a short video from that concert. If you go directly to the YouTube site, you'll find a few more.

If you don't know about Jamie's songs, you should. They are some of the best, most biblical songs out there. Check out Jamie's website and order a few of his CD's.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Great T-shirt

My favorite T-shirt says "I LOVE ANIMALS: they're delicious." But it's getting old and ratty, so I need a new one. I think I just found the prefect replacement.

But it looks like they are out of stock, so everyone sign up for them to reprint a new batch in size XL.

HT: Barlow Farms

I Wonder Why She Took the Stairs

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Son of God - Part IV

Continued from Part III

Against this two-natures interpretation of Romans 1:4 at least five broad arguments will be offered.

First, the divine-nature interpretation of “Son of God” seems to be advocated most often by those who are concerned to avoid any explanation that might lend credence to Adoptionist or Arian theological sympathizers. Apparently, if we allow any other meaning for “Son of God,” we open the door to those who would deny Jesus' divine nature as the eternal Son of the Father. The title "Son of God" must therefore be reserved as a technical term that denotes the Son’s essential divinity. Reymond, for example, argues that
while it is true that the verb oJri÷zw can also mean ‘appoint’ or ‘constitute,’ Paul cannot mean that Jesus was ‘appointed’ or ‘constituted’ the Son of God at the point of or by reason of His resurrection from the dead inasmuch as he had already represented Jesus by the first ‘bracket’ phrase as the Son of God prior to and independent of not only his resurrection but also His birth in Bethlehem of the seed of David (Robert L. Reymond, Jesus, Divine Messiah: The New Testament Witness [Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1990], p. 207).
Reymond seems to be chained to a technical definition of “Son of God” such that he cannot allow another dimension or meaning to arise other than the one that designates Jesus as the eternal Son of the Father. The argument appears to be something like “if Paul uses ‘son’ in one sense in v. 3, he cannot use it in another sense in v. 4.”

Without putting too fine a point on it, Paul does not use the phrase “son of God” in his first “bracket” as Reymond suggests; rather, Paul says “God sent his Son.” Paul introduces the phrase “Son of God” in v. 4 to designate that status and title to which Jesus was “appointed” by the Resurrection from the dead. By not allowing for the possibility that the word “Son” in v. 3 and 4 has two different nuances, those who advocate the two-natures interpretation are forced to reduce the significance of the resurrection in these verses to a noetic function with reference to Christ’s divine nature. His resurrection simply made evident his divinity. As Richard Gaffin notes, this is an odd, even foreign notion not found anywhere else in Paul. “The resurrection of Christ is the resurrection of the firstfruits, the firstborn, the second Adam. It has no meaning apart from the solidarity between Christ and believers, apart from what he has in common with them. With reference to Christ’s person, for Paul the resurrection concerns his human nature, not his divine nature" (Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., The Centrality of the Resurrection: A Study in Paul’s Soteriology [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1978], p. 104-105). As Paul says in Romans 1:2-4, it is the Son as man that is raised from the dead and appointed to be “the Son of God with power.”

Second, the two-natures interpretation does not do justice to the passive participle tou 'oristhentos by translating it as “declared” or even “marked out.” Each time it occurs elsewhere in the New Testament (Lk. 22:22; Acts 2:23; 10:41; 11:29; 17:26, 31; Heb. 4:7) the verb orizo means “to determine, appoint, or fix.” John Murray explains “that Jesus was ‘appointed’ or ‘constituted’ Son of God with power and points therefore to an investiture which had an historical beginning parallel to the historical beginning mentioned in verse 3” (The Epistle to the Romans [Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1959], p. 9). This meaning should not be abandoned by orthodox commentators and theologians simply because it threatens to be theologically suspect or troublesome. It becomes a theological burr only if one fails to acknowledge that when biblical authors speak of Jesus as “Son” and “Son of God” the meaning is often broader and more varied than its common usage in systematic, dogmatic, and polemical theology. Unfortunately, failure to appreciate differences in usage and a desire to defend a high orthodox christology drive many orthodox commentators to insist that orizo cannot here mean “appoint” or “determine” because Jesus was the Son of God from all eternity! John Murray’s comments are helpful:
It might appear that this encounters an insuperable objection; Jesus was not appointed Son of God; as we found [in v. 3], he is conceived to be the eternal Son, and this sonship had no historical beginning. But this objection has validity only as we overlook the force of the expression “with power.” The apostle does not say that Jesus was appointed “Son of God” but “Son of God in power.” This addition makes all the difference. Furthermore, we may not forget that already in verse 3 the Son of God is now viewed not simply as the eternal Son but as the eternal Son incarnate, the eternal Son subject to the historical conditions introduced by his being born of the seed of David. . . .The apostle is dealing with some particular event in the history of the Son of God incarnate by which he was instated in a position of sovereignty and invested with power, and event which in respect of investiture with power surpassed everything that could previously be ascribed to him in his incarnate state (Epistle to the Romans, p. 10).

To Be Continued

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Worship for Religious Consumers?

Sally Morgenthaler, the author of Worship Evangelism (1999), admits that she was wrong.
. . . a storm had been brewing in my soul for five long years. I remember meeting with the worship leader of a well-known church in the fall of 2000. He had followed my work and respected many of my viewpoints. When we met over coffee, he shared a concern he'd had for a while over my book Worship Evangelism. In his view, Worship Evangelism had helped to create a "worship-driven subculture." As he explained it, this subculture was a sizeable part of the contemporary church that had just been waiting for an excuse not to do the hard work of real outreach. An excuse not to get their hands dirty. According to him, that excuse came in the form of a book—my book. He elaborated. "If a contemporary worship service is the best witnessing tool in the box, then why give a rip about what goes on outside the worship center? If unbelievers are coming through the doors to check us Christians out, and if they'll fall at Jesus' feet after they listen to us croon worship songs and watch us sway back and forth, well then, a whole lot of churches are just going to say, 'Sign us up!' "

To be honest, I wasn't surprised. The attitude he described certainly didn't fit every congregation out there in contemporary-worship-land, but it matched too much of what I'd seen. The realization hit me in the gut. Between 1995 and 2000 I'd traveled to a host of worship-driven churches, some that openly advertised that they were "a church for the unchurched." On the good occasions, the worship experience was transporting. (I dug a little deeper when that happened. Invariably, I found another value at work behind the worship production: a strong, consistent presence in the community.) Too many times, I came away with an unnamed, uneasy feeling. Something was not quite right. The worship felt disconnected from real life. Then there were the services when the pathology my friend talked about came right over the platform and hit me in the face. It was unabashed self-absorption, a worship culture that screamed, "It's all about us" so loudly that I wondered how any visitor could stand to endure the rest of the hour.

. . . Early in 2005 an unchurched journalist attended one of the largest, worship-driven churches in the country. Here is his description of one particular service:

"The [worship team] was young and pretty, dressed in the kind of quality-cotton-punk clothing one buys at the Gap. 'Lift up your hands, open the door,' crooned the lead singer, an inoffensive tenor. Male singers at [this] and other megachurches are almost always tenors, their voices clean and indistinguishable, R&B-inflected one moment, New Country the next, with a little bit of early '90s grunge at the beginning and the end.

"They sound like they're singing in beer commercials, and perhaps this is not coincidental. The worship style is a kind of musical correlate to (their pastor's) free market theology: designed for total accessibility, with the illusion of choice between strikingly similar brands. (He prefers the term flavors, and often uses Baskin-Robbins as a metaphor when explaining his views.) The drummers all stick to soft cymbals and beats anyone can handle; the guitarists deploy effects like artillery but condense them, so the highs and lows never stretch too wide. Lyrics tend to be rhythmic and pronunciation perfect, the better to sing along with when the words are projected onto movie screens. Breathy or wailing, vocalists drench their lines with emotion, but only within strict confines. There are no sad songs in a megachurch, and there are no angry songs. There are songs about desperation, but none about despair; songs convey longing only if it has already been fulfilled."

No sad songs. No angry songs. Songs about desperation, but none about despair. Worship for the perfect. The already arrived. The good-looking, inoffensive, and nice. No wonder the unchurched aren't interested.
Read the entire article.

IED in Iraq

This one looks like it was buried a bit too deep.