Reigning In Life


Today is my day in the collaborative 40 Day (Blog) Fast, round 2. If you’ve been following the fast, thanks for stopping in. I’m touched by the nature of changing the world this way. What a small thing it is for me to fast and pray for a day, yet collaboratively God may be pleased to use this in sweeping change in the world for his renown.

The ministry that shares the Gospel and cares for physical needs that I’d like to draw your attention to is the Christian Veterinary Mission USA. Now I have never been on a trip with them, or even been to a seminar or conference. But my father in law is a veterinarian and has made me aware of their work.

The exciting piece is that sustainable healthy living in 3rd world communities can be brought about in part through the foundation of healthy and productive livestock. In fact, Jared Diamond in his popular Guns, Germs, and Steel argues that the technological and political primacy of Europe during the last several centuries is directly related to available crops and domesticatable livestock being available to that region for the last several thousand years.
A sustained shift out of crippling poverty and famine in the third world through healthier livestock, in Jesus name – that’s a group we need to support.

CVMUSA

Read it.

The common joke goes something like that. But there is a grain of truth in it that motivates many commentators. In reading the introduction to D.A. Carson’s Exegetical Fallacies, 2nd Edition, I found some commentary that is helpful in the quest to allow seminary to be a spiritual green house, rather than a mortuary.

Carson describes the shift away from devotionally minded Bible reading into critical biblical study as experienced by a fictitious seminary student. Most seminarians probably come from just such a situation – fluent in their tradition’s interpretation and eager for devotional insights, yet unacquainted with critical issues in the text and variant theological perspectives. The jarring process the exegete undergoes in studying a text Carson describes as “distanciation.” (Both my computer dictionary and my old red Webster’s failed me on that one!) If you look up distanciation on the web, in English, you should find that it describes the process of being confronted with views that differ from your own, after which you must evaluate critically and reestablish your own view. This process of alienation must happen when we come to the biblical text, otherwise we are just reading our own views or our preferred tradition into the text.

It is clear how this could contribute to some negative effects in the lives of seminarians! Three responses Carson identifies are “a defensive pietism that boisterously denounces the arid intellectualism… all around” or “the vortex of a kind of intellectual commitment that squeezes out worship, prayer, witness, and meditative reading of Scripture” or one “may stagger along until he is rescued by graduation and returns to the real world.”(pg. 23)

Carson does not leave us with these three common responses, but suggests that we can enjoy the best of both worlds – intellectual and devotional satisfaction. “Work hard at incorporating your entire Christian walk (practical/devotional) and commitment (intellectual), and the topic of this study (exegesis, specifically pitfalls therein) will prove beneficial.(pg 24)” [parenthesis added by me.]

So, this post has three encouragements: 1. Wrestle with the text and embrace the shifts in your worldview on account of interacting with Scripture, to be more conformed to it. 2. There is in fact good stuff in the introductions to books! 3. Seminary need not be Cemetery!

This past Lord’s Day we sang a hymn a cappella called Of the Father’s Love Begotten. Besides being a particularly beautiful tune (in spite of my singing a cappella) and having glorious theology wonderfully phrased in english, it has an impressive history.

I’ve been reading ahead for next semester in some of the courses for which I am registered. One required text is Mark Noll’s Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity. Through the first quarter of the text, it is delightful – and I expect the rest to follow suit. Regardless, the third chapter is introduced with a poem written by Aurelius Clemens Prudentius of the same title as our hymn. Clearly the hymn’s forebear is this ancient poem. Compare the two, and consider that we’re singing the same praise that was lifted up 1600 yrs ago.
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I got to finish Jonathan Edwards’ sermon The Excellency of Christ today. Edwards unpacks something of the “admirable conjunction of diverse excellencies in Jesus Christ”, and goes on to give us application to them.

Consider this juicy quote:

One design of God in the gospel is to bring us to make God the object of our undivided respect, that he may engross our regard [in] every way, that watever natural inclination there is in our souls, he may be the center of it; that God may be all in all.

You can read it for free here.

In case you missed it, or have already fogotten about it, Pastor Mike kind of shook up the whole world with his sermon on Romans 6:5-10. I was doing a little looking at Romans 6:7, and specifically at this whole “freed” vs. “justified” translation issue. This is critical because it really shapes our reading of the following verses and our understanding the relationship of our hearts to sin.

I started with the english translations and how they render this verse. The grossest offender that I saw was the NLT:

For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin.

As opposed to the ESV (footnoted) translation:

For one who has died has been justified from sin.

Wycliffe got it right though:

For he that is dead [to sin], is justified from sin.

Also of interest is the Greek used here. Even if you don’t know anything about Greek, check out the parsed version at Zhubert.com, here. Just run your mouse over the terms to get the parsing and a definition. Of course the word is shaped by the context, but this isn’t an exegisis paper, we’re just perusing the Greek. 🙂

For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” Romans 8:13 (KJV)

For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Romans 8:13 (ESV)

“Hatred of sin as sin, not only as galling or disquieting, a sense of the love of Christ in the cross, lie at the bottom of all true spiritual mortification.” – John Owen from Mortification of Sin in Believers

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