Misquoting Narnia

I have come to expect people to misuse Scripture to argue their pet doctrines, but recently I experienced a first: someone explained the lesson of Edmund in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as being the lesson that he had to give up Turkish Delight (candy) to make things right. Since the person was a minister, I can understand it. Legalism is all about what YOU have to do to be made right, so of course that was how they saw the Narnia story. Sadly enough, the true story was that Edmund had been a traitor and there was NOTHING he could do to avoid the curse. Instead Aslan (the lion figure representing Christ) had to die to restore Edmund. In exactly the same way Jesus Christ had to die to rescue us from the penalty of out sin…there was nothing we could do. 

There, in a nutshell, you have the great mistake of organized religion–you have to DO something to earn restoration. It is just the opposite of God’s extravagant, free grace!

Substitutionary Atonement

After writing a summary of different views on the atonement for my eBook, I have begun to have a serious question about many of the theories. It has always bothered me that God…who is loving…could watch…or even worse, turn away from…His Son on the cross. I guess some of this new perspective comes from Jacobson’s book, He Loves Me, but it makes great sense. We are told that God “can’t look on sin” when every evidence indicates God is quite aware of it and remains holy despite looking on it. All we have is the passage on the cross where Jesus says, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” I think the truth is that it felt as though God had forsaken Him, but He was there with Jesus even in those dark hours. God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself.

So what was going on? I think the legal theories set up a God who cannot justify the sinner except for someone else…who had to be perfect…taking the punishment for sin. Somewhere in there comes averting the wrath of God. But always the focus is on the sinner rather than the sin.

The chemo atonement model

My pastor, Tom Zawacki describes what he describes as the chemotherapy model of the atonement. It was the condemning of the sin in the flesh that was needed…much like treating the body to eliminate the cancer cells. But the ‘chemo’ was too strong for ordinary humans to endure, so God, in Christ, underwent the treatment for us (which won’t work for ordinary chemo, unfortunately). God was not angry with Jesus, nor was He angry with us. He was graciously treating in us, His loved children, the disease that had snuck in in the Garden and was killing off His children.

Here is a picture that retains God the Father’s role as a loving God…instead of have the Father as the angry one, Jesus as the loving one, and the Holy Spirit as the weird one! Here we have a God who has not been rendered helpless by his holiness vs our sin. Here we have a Father who does not abandon his Son. Here we have love in action. I like that model.

Humility took about 18 months

Whoever described a highly successful blog/web site that grew like topsy from the start is either a very clever marketer or happened onto a topic of great interest. My own experiences have been considerably less dramatic!

On average this blog (Revisiting Scripture) has about 2 visitors a day. That would be marvelous if those two were seriously interested students of Scripture, but I suspect that is not the case since virtually no one posts comments and most of the ‘follows’ have incomprehensible email names and end in .pl. Now I have nothing against people living in Poland and even follow a young artist’s work from there, but it makes me think many of these visits are spam-related…and possibly by one person. I am only protected from the endless bogus emails I got at the start by the DISCUS plug-in.

But what about the humility in the title? I believe it was the Lord’s encouragement that started me writing the Revisiting Scripture, and I now see it may have been more for my own personal benefit than to take the world…even the Christian world…by storm. What He has been doing IN me is the most important thing about the process. I can now see that I am more comfortable taking a back seat and watching others grow spiritually.

As I have mentioned, the interval between eBooks has suddenly stretched. Be assured that is due to other obligations…not due to discouragement. I expect to have the last two eBooks done well before Christmas and then go on to compile a print version. I hope you will be there with me.

 

eBook #4 released!

 

eBook #4

eBook #4

The fourth section of Revisiting Scripture is finished and available from Kindle ($2.99). It centers on things to do with church… buildings, meetings, singing, leadership (including the role of women), ceremonies such as baptism and communion, marriage, divorce, and giving. While I interact with folks who are gently or even violently opposed to the institutional church… abbreviated IC, despite the fact that everyone knows those letters stand for Integrated Circuits… there is no denying that the vast majority of Christians are still involved in that setting. As with the earlier parts, my goal is to encourage you to examine what you have believed was taught in Scripture to see how that belief holds up.

In an effort to avoid proof texting, the eBooks all include the entire passages with their contexts… right there so you don’t even have to look them up. In my effort to use a relatively new translation without incurring restrictions and high costs from copyright owners, I have been drawn to the New English Translation. It is abbreviated NET, which reflects their focus on making it freely available on the Internet. I have found it to be slightly more conservative than the New International Version (NIV), but the most interesting aspect it the extensive set of translation and study notes that are available. You can read a verse and know most of the issues and alternatives surrounding the final choice, so you get a good idea of the range of possible meanings.

I am needing reviews! If you have reviewed the first part and would like to read and review the rest, contact me at schultz@pei.sympatico.ca and I will arrange for you to get the later parts at no cost.

Women in Ministry

[More from my soon-to-be-released 4th eBook]

There has been a strong tradition in Christianity of prohibiting women from ministry or leadership roles, based on perceived teachings of Scripture—primarily several passages in Paul’s epistles. The key passages follow, but first, I should clarify the issue. With the cultural changes brought about by the feminist movement, there is a strong desire to find… or invent, if necessary… Scriptural support for women’s equality. For many centuries, most Christian cultures relegated women to background roles in the church, and some present day theologians are working to prove that does not properly reflect New Testament teaching. The patriarchal perspective of the Old Testament, reflected in many of the rules under the Jewish law, lined up with many non Judeo-Christian cultures over the ages. Only in the last century or two has women’s equality become a prominent issue. Lagging behind the general trend, a gradual shift is taking place in Protestant denominations to allow for woman ministers, with the more conservative groups being the last to succumb.

There are some Scriptural reasons to see early Christianity as more radical than tradition would suggest. Some of Paul’s writings admonished Christians to treat all believers as equals. To the extent that actually happened, the early church may have been quite radical in its acceptance of all classes equally:

Galatians 3:26-29(NET) For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female—for ALL OF YOU ARE ONE IN CHRIST JESUS. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to the promise.

I have recently heard it taught that Christians in the early church, while they differed in sex and status on the outside, when they entered the doors of the assembly, became equals. At least that was the goal that Paul sought for them. Continue reading

Church Meetings

It seems the early church meetings were quite different than present practice. As best we can tell based on these few verses, the first church meetings were held in an outer court of the temple and happened every day. That would account for the healing of the lame man who routinely begged at the temple, as well as the antagonism of the Jewish leaders—they were right in their face! In addition they apparently met and ate together in their homes:

Acts 2:41-47(NET) So those who accepted his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand people were added. They were devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Reverential awe came over everyone, and many wonders and miraculous signs came about by the apostles. All who believed were together and held everything in common, and they began selling their property and possessions and distributing the proceeds to everyone, as anyone had need. Every day they continued to gather together by common consent in the temple courts, breaking bread from house to house, sharing their food with glad and humble hearts, praising God and having the good will of all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number every day those who were being saved.

Acts 5:12-14(NET) Now many miraculous signs and wonders came about among the people through the hands of the apostles. By common consent they were all meeting together in Solomon’s Portico. None of the rest dared to join them, but the people held them in high honor. More and more believers in the Lord were added to their number, crowds of both men and women.

Next is a passage addressed to the church in Corinth, a pagan city, which probably included a significant proportion of non–Jews. This was not Jerusalem with the Jewish temple to meet in, so the best guess is that they met in someone’s home. Note, however, in the last verse, Do you not have houses so that you can eat and drink? This suggests either that they were not in a home or else that those who were hungry should eat at their own homes before coming to the home where the meeting was to occur so they did not gobble everything before others could get there. The Lord’s Supper of that day must have been much more than a tiny bit of grape juice and a crumb of bread!

1 Corinthians 11:17-22(NET) Now in giving the following instruction I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better but for the worse. For in the first place, when you come together as a church I hear there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. For there must in fact be divisions among you, so that those of you who are approved may be evident. Now when you come together at the same place, you are not really eating the Lord’s Supper. For when it is time to eat, everyone proceeds with his own supper. One is hungry and another becomes drunk. Do you not have houses so that you can eat and drink? Or are you trying to show contempt for the church of God by shaming those who have nothing? What should I say to you? Should I praise you? I will not praise you for this!

1 Corinthians 11:33-34(NET) So then, my brothers and sisters, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, so that when you assemble it does not lead to judgment. I will give directions about other matters when I come.

It may be that the modern church supper… potluck… carry–in… pitch-in… is closer to an early church meeting than the modern worship service.

How deep the Father’s love

As I was editing on the 4th eBook, I came to a part where I talk about songs in the church and inserted this as an example of a song that is both moving and accurate to Scripture:

How Deep the Father’s Love for Us[1]: Having taken issue with songs from ancient to modern, let me insert a song that has amazed me with its complete alignment with both the words and intent of Scripture:

How deep the Father’s love for us, How vast beyond all measure,

Romans 8:38–39(NET) For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor heavenly rulers, nor things that are present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Ephesians 3:17–19(NET) …that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, so that, because you have been rooted and grounded in love, you may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and thus to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

That He should give His only Son, To make a wretch His treasure.

Romans 7:24–25(NET) Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

John 3:16(NET) For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

How great the pain of searing loss; The Father turns His face away

Isaiah 53:3–4(NET) He was despised and rejected by people, one who experienced pain and was acquainted with illness; people hid their faces from him; he was despised, and we considered him insignificant. But he lifted up our illnesses, he carried our pain even though we thought he was being punished, attacked by God, and afflicted for something he had done.

Mark 15:34(NET) Around three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

As wounds which mar the Chosen One, Bring many sons to glory.

Isaiah 52:14-15(NET) …(just as many were horrified by the sight of you) he was so disfigured he no longer looked like a man; his form was so marred he no longer looked human —so now he will startle many nations….

Hebrews 2:9–10(NET) …but we see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by God’s grace he would experience death on behalf of everyone. For it was fitting for him, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings. Continue reading

Third eBook now available!

 

Cover of third eBook in Revisiting Scripture series

Cover of third eBook in Revisiting Scripture series

Polishing and finishing each section seems to take about 6-7 weeks, and the third one about topics relating to living as a Christian is now up on Kindle. If you liked the emphasis of the first two, this should be satisfying as well. It consists of two parts… the first about topics relating to the Christian walk and the second visiting Christian holy days.

Aspects of walking as a Christian from Scripture include:

  • Trust like a little child
  • Walk one day at a time
  • Overcome a critical spirit
  • Love one another
  • Encourage one another
  • Affirm what God id doing
  • Forgive
  • Be intimate with God
  • Learn the secret of rest
  • Walk by grace
  • Be generous
  • Be holy
  • Do what pleases God
  • Dress right
  • Understand the will of God
  • Pray and intercede
  • Obey the graat commission
  • Fight the Christian battle
  • Put on the armor of God
  • Deal with discouragement
  • Hang on to the future

Among the topics with particularly new perspectives are parts about Sanctification–can it be achieved in this life, prayer–why do we have to pray long and loud, and is intercession something new, and the armor of God–why have we made it offensive when Scripture clearly says it is defensive?

The section about Christian holy days starts with an extensive exploration of Sunday and Sabbath keeping… which day, how it should be observed, and what is Christian freedom. Moving to Christmas, there are lists of traditions that, while perfectly fine, are NOT part of the Scripture narrative. Good Friday and Easter sections get into discussions of chronology, did Jesus descend to Hell (and if so, what would He do there?), and the arguments against the resurrection. Oh, yes, there is an extensive passage about angels with very little commentary.

So, if you liked the earlier eBooks, you should find lots of interesting topics here. As always they are accompanied by lots of Scripture, copied into the text and including the context. The goal is to again look at what Scripture REALLY says.[subscribe2]

The Empty Tomb Revisited

[here is another excerpt form my very-soon-to-be-released third eBook]

While there is some grumbling among Christians about the fact that the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection came to be mixed in with pagan festivals of spring… in our modern secularized culture it has reverted to that!… a fresh look at Scripture provides at least indirect confirmation of the factuality of the event. Some of these insights are to be found in the sequence of events on Easter morning.

Despite the predictions, no one expected it: Long before the Resurrection was understood, the disciples knew the tomb was empty:

Luke 24:1-3(NET) Now on the first day of the week, at early dawn, the women went to the tomb, taking the aromatic spices they had prepared. They found that the stone had been rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

In the accounts we find the impetuous Peter vs. the more cautious John. Here too we see the sudden opening of the eyes of Mary who was the first to see him and thought he was the gardener:

John 20:1–18(NIV) Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) Then the disciples went back to their homes, but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. “Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

John 20:1-18(NET) Now very early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been moved away from the entrance. So she went running to Simon Peter and the other disciple whom Jesus loved and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” Then Peter and the other disciple set out to go to the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down and saw the strips of linen cloth lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who had been following him, arrived and went right into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen cloth lying there, and the face cloth, which had been around Jesus’ head, not lying with the strips of linen cloth but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, came in, and he saw and believed. (For they did not yet understand the scripture that Jesus must rise from the dead.) So the disciples went back to their homes. But Mary stood outside the tomb weeping. As she wept, she bent down and looked into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white sitting where Jesus’ body had been lying, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” Mary replied, “They have taken my Lord away, and I do not know where they have put him!” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?” Because she thought he was the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will take him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni” (which means Teacher). Jesus replied, “Do not touch me, for I have not yet ascended to my Father. Go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” Mary Magdalene came and informed the disciples, “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them what Jesus had said to her. Continue reading