Monday, March 31, 2008
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Ok, Ok, Ok. I thought I would do something for my elder Bob. I asked myself what would he like ... it came to me JOHN DENVER. I searched YouTube and found him. But then I just couldn't bring myself to put Country Road on Stoned-Campbell ... so I said "Surely Bob has One Love for BOB Marley!" ;-) For you Bob
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
“Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (Proverbs 16.24). Words, aren’t they something! Stop and think for a moment about the ability that we enjoy of communicating verbally with one another.
There is a connection between the gift of speech and the image of God reflected in every human life. The Prologue of John’s Gospel describes the Word of God in all its power, love, light and finally its humanness. God’s most complete exposure of himself to us took the form of a Word—a word made human. Words are indeed the stuff of life.
Satan, however, often turns words into the poison of death. Have you noticed that nearly every time God speaks, the Adversary is there to counter with a different word? Just as God communicates through us, Satan can also use our mouths as megaphones for his message, his hate, his destruction—his words.
Words are powerful. Words spear, cut, slice, and lance. Words infect. Words destroy. Words burn. Words divide. Words lead to war. Words kill!
Words. God’s gifts which supply hope, healing, friendship, and redemption. Words. Satan’s most trustworthy tools for undoing the bond of love that binds God’s people.
A choice faces us as we enter each day. Our words—to whom do they belong? Our speech—who owns it through our lives? Our Lord—or someone else?
“Let no bad words come out of your mouth, but only those which strengthen our build up as the occasion requires, so that grace might be given to those who hear you.” (Ephesians 4.29, NCV).
Think About it,
Monday, March 17, 2008
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Unity, Freedom of Inquiry, and Humility Or ... Of Gnats and Camel Swallowing. A Look in the Rear View Mirror for Today's Church
“There is a great need to stress the importance of maintaining freedom of speech in the kingdom of God. Intolerance is dangerous to the future growth of the church . . . All progress of truth – scientific truth, political truth, or religious truth – all truth - has always depended on free speech and progressive teachers who were not afraid to teach their honest convictions.” (J. N. Armstrong, For Freedom)
Stoned-Campbell Thoughts in the Rear View Mirror
Sunday, March 09, 2008
Of Popes in the Belly
I have been reading Barton Stone's writings. This is not my first journey through his writings but I think I have gained more understanding than previously . . . or at least I see things now that I did not before. Stone began publishing his journal, The Christian Messenger, in November of 1826. The very first article, which is untitled, covers the first four pages of the journal . . . it is on barriers to Christian union which Stone relates to personal spiritual growth.
Since this is the first article in Stone's journal it seems that he places some importance on its content. Freedom is essential to both Christian growth and unity. Stone had witnessed first hand the intolerance of those who would cast one out as a heretic for simply studying the Bible and coming to his own conclusion that may differ from one traditionally held. Freedom is a sword that cuts both ways however. If I truly grant it I allow for the possibility one will come away with a different understanding on some things than me. How do we handle this in others and in ourselves? In practice we have a tendency to assume a position of infallibility. Hear Stone:
"We must be fully persuaded, that all uninspired men are fallible, and therefore liable to err . . . Luther, in a coarse manner, said that every man was born with a Pope in his belly. By which I suppose he meant, that every man deemed himself infallible . . . If the present generation remain under the influence of this principle, the consequences must be that the spirit of free inquiry will die -- our liberty lie prostrated at the feet of ecclesiastical demagogues." (Christian Messenger 1 (November 1826), 2)
Do we not suffer from this malady today? Do Christians have a "Pope in the belly?" Why is it that when a brother or sister disagrees with a position we take we assume that they disagree with God . . . when all they disagree with is our interpretation.
I survey the doctrinal war zone of the Churches of Christ. In many ways it looks like the wasteland of
Just as in the religious wars of the Seventeenth Century, rooted in Pope in the Belly malady, so our divisions testify that it is still around. We have nothing to fear from the freedom to think and study and learn . . . and even change our minds. The first step, Stone says, of defeating the Pope in the Belly is being able to see the need to GROW. If I admit that I have not yet arrived . . . there is hope. I admit that I, at times, suffer from this cancerous blight.
Ut omnes unum sint (John 17.21, Vulgate, 'that they may all be one')
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
Marcionism & Churches of Christ: What Value, REALLY, is the "Old Testament?" #5: The Loss of the Hebrew Bible
A word on the word "loss." By "loss" I do not mean to say a preacher never does a character study of a person which is one of the more frequent uses of the Hebrew Bible or quotes from it from time to time. By "loss" I mean the doctrine/theology of the Hebrew Bible that formed and shaped Israel, Jesus and the early church are no longer the primary "glasses" that we view all doctrine and life through. Are we shaped by the worldview that the "bible of Jesus" creates with its distinctive story of God?
First, a failure to take the Hebrew Bible seriously causes us to fundamentally misread the New Testament itself. This is exhibited in a number of ways. The authors of Pagan Christianity, which is often a fine book, speak disparaging of how some "Christian" practices or ideas "reflect the thinking of other religions--primarily Judaism and paganism" (p. 10). I will be the first to admit that Christianity has often been a Chameleon. Yet the issue that bothers me most is the authors fail to realize that Christianity is in fact "Jewish." The "New Testament" is literally written on the soil and in the atmosphere of the "Old Testament." This anti-Jewish vein of thought that has a long pedigree in Christian anti-semiticism. This goes so far in some folks that they have actually denied the Jewishness of Jesus himself. Jesus cannot be understood apart from the Hebrew Bible, a point to which we will return.
Second, if it is true that the "NT" was birthed with the blood of the Hebrew Bible flowing through its veins then that should move us to step back and see what this means. One scholar who has helped me think some of these issues through is G. Ernest Wright. In the middle of the 20th century Wright published a book entitled God Who Acts: Biblical Theology as Recital (1952). The first chapter of that book (The Church's Need of the Old Testament) should be required reading for every potential theologian in the church ... and every preacher is a theologian (the only question is whether one is a good one or not). One of the most astonishing claims made by Wright is that the Hebrew Bible is a "bulwark against paganism" for the church (p. 19). And it was an "enlightened" paganism that made such a profound resurgence in Modernism and has been embraced in the trappings of Christianity today.
How does the "OT" function in this regard? First through its doctrine of Creator and creation (the Bible has no theology of nature but only of creation). God is not part of creation though he is intimately involved with it, and creation has a purpose and goal. This may sound esoteric but it is not ... indeed it is of fundamental importance. The modern Christian cut loose from the Hebraic roots of faith reads the NT through a vaguely defined "spiritual" worldview. The knowledge of God is reduced to a feeling or an "experience." This spiritual experience is defined in radically individual terms (almost) completely separated from communal life and the program of God revealed in the narrative of Scripture. This "spirituality" instead emphasizes prayer (which is not bad btw) and the immortality of the soul. Wright states plainly, and correctly, "this represents the paganizing of the Gospel ... This Gospel is no scandal nor stumbling block" (p. 23). It is a reversion to "pagan normalcy."
The more carefully we study the Hebrew Bible the more clearly a distinctive view of God as Creator and Redeemer emerges and his relationship to his creation and humanity. This worldview is absolutely essential to biblical faith and is totally absorbed into the New Testament. The results of this loss are, in my view, the hyper individualism we see today and a neo-platonic spirituality that is alien to the entire Bible. The loss of the "bible" of Jesus births a Reader's Digest religion.
More to come.