Saturday, September 09, 2006

Not as uncertain as I thought?

One reason I haven't posted in awhile is my nearly complete lack of uncertainty over the past few weeks I have been preaching Romans 8. After the challenges of Romans 7, Chapter 8 has been for me relatively straightforward. I don't pretend to think I've got it all figured out, but I've experienced a remarkable degree of confidence as I've studied and preached through this chapter.

But here's a question that's come up: in verse 26, Paul says "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness." In the same way as what? John Piper thinks it refers to the help that Paul provides us with regard to the "why" of our suffering. My thought, and the way I'm intending to preach it, is that "the same way" refers to the description of hope and its work described in v. 24-25. In other words, just as God has ordained that you and I experience suffering firsthand as we await the fulfillment of His promise, the Spirit, "in the same way", walks through it with us.

I'm not certain, so I'll hold it, as a dear friend says, loosely. Your thoughts?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

21st Century Question of the Ages

Must make self blog. If I'm going to do this I have to do it every day, or so says Joe Carter over at The Evangelical Outpost. Ok does this count?

To blog or not to blog? So many possibilities, so many pitfalls.

I wish to be faithful to God, my wife, my congregation; how do others (who to my thinking have many more responsibilitiess than I) do it?

Friday, July 07, 2006

Ron Sider at JEI

This week I attended the annual Jonathan Edwards Institute conference in Annapolis. One of the speakers was Ron Sider, author of The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience and Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger. In one of his sessions, Dr. Sider addressed the question of how Christians can best interact with things political. He suggested the need to develop an "evangelical approach" to politics, which for him, consisted of four elements. (The following are my attempts at summarizing his thoughts, not his actual words.)

1) Put together a "normative framework" based upon biblical paradigms to guide thinking. For him, such a framework would include as basic: the Sanctity of Life; Freedom of Religious Thought; Necessity of Strong Families; Justice--fair courts and fair economic systems; Necessity of Work; Peacemaking; and Importance of both Individuality and Community.

2) Conduct a broad study of the world's systems and peoples in order to understand it's economy, environment and interactions.

3) Develop a guiding political philosophy in that it is impossible to formulate an immediate novel response to every new issue or candidate for office.

4) Perform a detailed social analysis of cardinal issues.

    He noted the complexity of each component, but believed an attempt to be necessary if evangelicals are to influence the political realm for gospel purposes.

    Your thoughts?

    Thursday, June 29, 2006

    Who is this?

    In the latter part of Romans Chapter 7, Paul makes a number of "I" statements that many commentators attribute to Paul taking on a persona to flesh out his argument about the believer's relationship to the law. Suggestions to this persona's identity have included: Adam, Paul in his pre-Christian state, even an anonymous "carnal Christian", the general idea being that Paul, in his mature state, could not have such a difficult struggle with sin. Below are some characteristics I've noted about the figure, which lead me to think Paul is describing himself at the time of his writing. If you think differently, what leads you to that conclusion?

    Characteristics of the figure in Romans 7:7—8:4
    7:7 would not have known what sin was except through the law.
    7b would not have know what coveting was if the law hadn’t said don’t.
    8 experienced covetous desire as a result of sin taking opportunity of law
    9 was once alive apart from the law
    9b died when sin sprang to life
    10 discovered that the law actually produced death
    11 was deceived by sin (again taking advantage of the law) and died
    13 wrestles with implications of the law
    14 considers self unspiritual, sold to sin as a slave
    15 can’t figure out why he does the things he does
    15b hates the things he does
    16 agrees the law is good, even when doing that which contrary to desires
    17 believes that sin is living in him, making him do things contrary to his desires
    18 believes that nothing good resides within him, that is within flesh/sin nature
    18b desires to do good, but can’t
    19 instead of doing what he believes to be good, instead discovers himself doing evil that he doesn’t like; indeed is unable to cease
    20 realizes that if he is acting contrary to will, there must be an outside force at work
    21 postulates conclusion that evil takes residence in the presence of a desire to do good
    22 in his inner being, delights in God’s law
    23 observes another law at work in his body, one at odds with his mind;
    24 feels and expresses deep dissatisfaction with self
    24b cries out for rescue from plight
    25 realizes Jesus is the answer to his dilemma
    25b concludes that an active dichotomy is at work in his inner being
    8:2 believes that he has been freed from the law of sin and death
    8:3 posits that this freeing couldn’t have been accomplished by the law, but was accomplished by God sending Jesus
    8:3-4 posits that the substitutionary offering of Christ’s life coupled with living “according to the Spirit” satisfies the righteous requirements of the law in him and others (“might be fully met in us, who” Romans 8:4 NIV)

    Friday, June 23, 2006

    Manifest Uncertainty

    The idea for this blog is to explore ideas, concepts and statements found in the Bible that for whatever reason are not easily understood or whose meaning is not readily agreed upon.

    For example, I'm currently preaching through Romans and am about to cover chapter 7. At the beginning of the chapter, Paul cites the death of a woman's husband as grounds for her freedom to marry another. Is Paul creating a) an illustration; b) an analogy; or c) an allegory? If you have this figured out, what is the connection between the modern believer, the woman and her dead husband?

    Your thoughts?